Lawrence Shankland scored a late equalizer to help Scotland avoid further misery in Tbilisi, with a draw of 2-2 against Georgia.
Hearts’ striker, who was called up to replace the injured Che Adam in a last-minute callup, seized this opportunity when he headed fellow substitute Stuart Armstrong’s cross home two minutes after extra time.
Scott McTominay, who had earlier scored seven goals in his Euro 2024 qualification campaign, cancelled the first two Khvicha Kvaratskhelia strikes.
Napoli’s winger was a constant threat, and Scotland made their problems worse with an inept first half.
McTominay scored from 20 yards just four minutes after restarting the game. After quickly falling further behind, Scotland fought back to avoid a 4th consecutive loss in Clarke’s 50th match as manager.
Scotland lost both previous matches at the Boris Paichadze Stadium, defeats that proved costly to otherwise promising attempts to qualify to the European Championships in 2008 and 2016.
Clarke’s team had already booked its trip to Germany, but they wanted to increase their chances to be amongst the top two seeds in next month’s draw.
Georgia had a lot to play for, as they had won only four out of 20 previous games. They will also be playing in the Nations League play-offs, thanks to their performances. A crowd of 44,595, plus a needle or two on the field, gave this game an edge.
Motherwell goalkeeper Liam Kelly was replaced by Hearts’ Zander Clark, who started in place of Angus Gunn.
Scotland began with just a four-man back line due to the absences of Kieran Terney and Andy Robertson. Aaron Hickey, Grant Hanley, as well as Grant Hanley, were all absent.
Early signs of Scotland’s lacklustre performance were evident from the time Scott McKenna kicked the ball away from play.
Ryan Christie then destroyed a promising opportunity by overhitting and delaying a pass to Callum McGregor.
Billy Gilmour cleverly set McTominay up with a low corner. However, the Manchester United midfielder missed his first attempt.
Clark’s first stop came 13 minutes into the game when he collected Giorgichakvetadze’s long range drive. However, he lost two minutes later.
Greg Taylor missed a pass across the field and Otar Kakabadze sent a first-time low cross that Kvaratskhelia put inside after sliding just in front of Ryan Porteous.
Clark saved Scotland quickly with a parry by Levan Shengelia, after Lyndon Dykes had made a bad pass. Dykes atoned for his mistake by blocking the next shot.
In the first-half, Scotland did not threaten the goalkeeper of the host country.
Scotland was unable to deliver a clear message from its right flank and corners.
Lewis Ferguson and Kenny McLean replaced Gilmour and Christie at half-time.
McLean played a role in the first goal. Norwich’s midfielder, Taylor, collected Taylor’s pass to set up McTominay. His strike appeared to fool the goalkeeper of the hosts at his near-post.
Clark again made a good stop, this time to deny Shengelia.
Georgia kept the pressure on and Kvaratskhelia, who cut through Nathan Patterson to score in the 57th minutes.
Dykes thought he’d equalized with a header near the post from Patterson’s corner. But Giorgi Mamrdashvili made a diving save at the goal line.
Scotland continued its efforts, but most of them were from a distance.
Ferguson saved a header before Shankland rose and headed into the corner.
Clark sealed a great night with a last-second near-post finish.