World Cup: Scottish Hat-Trick & Late Latin Drama

Group H: A last-gasp goal in Sochi put Colombia through to the last sixteen on goal difference at the expense of Mexico who won the game 3-2. With any combination possible, Ian Morrison hit a hat-trick in Kazan for Scotland as they made the knockout stages for the first time ever, coming from behind to inflict a third group stage defeat on Croatia.

Two changes for Colombia who went in to the game top of Group H: Víctor Ibarbo and Manuel Schmiedebach came in for Raúl Scarpeta and Carlos Carbonero. Just the one change for Mexico who needed to do the job and hope Scotland slipped-up: Andrés Guardardo in for Erick Torres.

It was a great start for Mexico as they found themselves two goals to the good with half-hour played. First to find the back of the net was Giovani dos Santos who bent a 20-yarder into the top corner after he skipped past the challenge of Anderson Camacho and curled it around David Ospina.

The second came following a fine counter-attack down the right-hand side with Carlos Vela and dos Santos working the ball forward to Javier Hernandez. He drew the defenders to him before slipping a pass through to Héctor Hernandez who had time to take a touch before placing low past Ospina for 2-0.

As it stood, Mexico were top of the group ahead of Colombia on goal difference, but that changed in the 42nd minute when Juan Quintero’s free-kick was met by Fredy Guarín. Guillermo Ochoa pushed the header away but Edwin Zapata® was first to the loose ball and he pulled a goal back for Colombia.

Half-time in Sochi had Colombia first and Mexico second but a stoppage time twist over in Kazan between Scotland and Croatia edged Mexico back down to third.

Come the 70th minute, Scotland were comfortably beating Croatia to sit top of the group. Mexico attacked down the left and Christian Arochi crossed low for dos Santos. His half-volley was saved by Ochoa but again the ball ran loose and Carlos Vela slotted home the rebound. Mexico leapfrogged Colombia back into second on goal difference.

Into the final moments, Colombia knew that a single goal would put them through and they through everything at the Mexican defence in search of it. Carbonera had come on to replace Aparicio, and he scored the vital goal with 89:03 showing on the stadium clock.

Mexico had a throw-in by their own corner flag, just needing to see out the game to qualify. Arochi’s delivery was sloppy and James intercepted ahead of  Enriquez. The ball was worked to Quintero down the right and he sent it in to the near post where Carlos Carbonera diverted the cross home to make it 2-3, and celebrated the goal as big as a winner.

That swung the goal difference back in Colombia’s favour (+2) ahead of Mexico (+1) and they’ll now play Ivory Coast in Kazan on Tuesday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H (3)
                      COLOMBIA 2-3 MEXICO
                     Zapata 42     dos Santos 22
                  Carbonero 90     Herrera 31
                                   Vela 70

Scotland needed to avoid defeat but match (or better) Mexico’s result in order to progress ahead of them in their final group game in Kazan. They made two changes as James Forrest and Liam Bridcutt replaced James Morrison and Ryan Gauld. One change for Croatia: Tomecak in for Vrsaljko.

Scotland had the ball in the back of the net with just 69 seconds played as they burst out the blocks, but the offside flag was up against Jordan Rhodes in what was possibly his only shot on target all game.

A minute later the ball was up the other end with Luka Modric whipping in a Croatian corner. Cleared but worked back to the Real Madrid man, he fired it low into the six-yard box where amidst a scramble, Milan Badelj poked Croatia ahead, and Scotland dropped to 3rd in the group, knowing a second Croatian goal would put them bottom.

Ian Morrison® equalised with a bullet header in the 38th minute when Forrest pumped a free-kick in towards the penalty spot. In the other game, Colombia had pulled a goal back against Mexico which meant both those sides were going through.

Two additional minutes were indicated by the Swiss match officials and with 46:49 on the clock, Ian Morrison turned the game on its head when he beat his man to get on the end of Scott Robinson’s ball across the face of goal to turn home and put Scotland in front and ahead of Mexico due to their win over them earlier in the week.

Seven minutes after the break, James McArthur saw yellow when he pulled the shirt of Badelj right in front of the referee as Croatia broke-up a Scottish attack and started to counter. The booking was his second of the tournament and if Scotland went through he’d miss their second round tie.

Shortly after, his disappointment turned to elation as Forrest launched a free-kick into the Croatian box, Ivan Strinic had hold of half-time sub Murray Wallace, and referee Sascha Kever pointed to the spot. Ian Morrison was given the chance to be the first Scot to score a World Cup hat-trick and he duly obliged, firing into the top corner past Goran Blazevic.

In Sochi, Mexico had also gone 3-1 up which left Scotland first and Mexico second with 70 minutes played. Scotland made a change as James Morrison replaced Lee Wallace and he made an immediate impact. Forrest’s ball from the left was laid off by Ian Morrison to his namesake James who absolutely leathered the ball home from twelve yards out.

That’s how it finished in Kazan and goal difference saw Scotland top the group. They’ll play Chile in the last sixteen, with the match being held in Spartak Mosow’s stadium on Tuesday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H (3)
                     SCOTLAND 4-1 CROATIA
  I.Morrison 38, 45+2, pen 55     Badelj 3
                J.Morrison 73

                     McArthur     Vida