Scotland Under-21s pegged back by Kazakhstan in Euro qualifier

Scotland squandered a two-goal lead in the last 20 minutes.

Scotland Under-21s pegged back by Kazakhstan in Euro qualifier SNS Group

Scotland Under-21s squandered a two-goal lead in the closing 20 minutes as Kazakhstan fought back to claim a 2-2 draw in a European Championship qualifier played in torrential rain in Almaty.

The young Scots looked on course for victory after goals from debutant Ross Graham and substitute Tom Clayton put them in command, but, in farcical playing conditions, the hosts pulled one back with a penalty before equalising four minutes into stoppage time.

Scotland already had little chance of making it to the finals in Romania and Georgia next year after losing three of their first five matches in Group I. This result effectively killed off any lingering hopes of getting back into contention.

The Scots were again under the charge of assistant boss Peter Houston as head coach Scott Gemill, who missed Friday’s 2-0 defeat by Turkey at Tynecastle due to Covid-19, was unavailable to make the long trip to Asia.

There were four changes to the side that started against the Turks as Graham, Jack Burroughs, Josh Campbell and Connor Barron replaced Scott Banks, Scott High, Ben Williamson and Lewis Fiorini.

The visitors went ahead in the 25th minute when Dundee United centre-back Graham forced the ball home after being set up by captain Stephen Welsh following a Calvin Ramsay corner.

The Scots suffered a blow in the 49th minute when Celtic defender Welsh limped off injured and was replaced by Liverpool midfielder Clayton.

The substitute required only eight minutes to make an impact as he doubled the lead by sweeping a shot home from close range after Lewis Mayo had headed the ball down from another Ramsay corner.

The hosts got themselves back into the game in the 71st minute, however, when they were awarded a penalty after Yerkebulan Seidakhmet was fouled by Burroughs. Seidakhmet picked himself up and fired low past Cieran Slicker, who dived the right way.

Scotland went close to restoring their two-goal cushion in the 81st minute when Glenn Middleton curled an effort just wide of the far post from eight yards out.

But the hosts grabbed a point right at the death when Abylaikhan Zhumabek tapped in from close range after Manchester City keeper Slicker fumbled Zhaslan Zhumashev’s header into his path following Daniyar Ussenov’s dangerous free-kick from the left.

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