GORDON Strachan last night called on his Scotland to close out their bid for a Russia 2018 play-off place after watching them land a vital last-gasp victory over Slovakia at Hampden. 

A Martin Skrtel own goal with just over a minute remaining gave the national team a richly-deserved 1-0 triumph aver opponents who had been reduced to 10 men and saw them jump into second spot in Group F with one game remaining.

They now need to beat Slovenia, who slipped to fourth place in the section after losing 1-0 to England at Wembley, in Ljubljana in their final match on Sunday to finish runners-up. 

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Strachan insisted he had, despite the lateness of the goal, never had any doubts his charges, who have now won four and drawn one of their last five qualifiers, would prevail in a game they dominated. 

The 60-year-old, though, knows their efforts will count for nothing if they fail to deliver in the Stozice Stadium this weekend and has urged his men to produce one final performance. 

“Every win makes you feel better about yourself, along with every performance,” he said “The goalkeeper (Martin Dubravka) was outstanding and the crossbar wasn’t too bad either. There was a lot we can be pleased about, but we just need to regroup and go again.

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“Would I have taken second place before the campaign started? Yeah. Because England are so far ahead of us in resources. But we showed we can compete against them at times.

“What we want to do now is try to finish this off - forget about the bits and bobs which went on before and carry on.”

Strachan added: “At no time did it feel really stressful. I felt part of it when I was down there and I could see they had everything under control. It wasn’t a problem for them, apart from a couple of misplaced passes.

“They had a real belief in what they were trying to do. They stayed above the anxiety of the crowd. A lot of people were getting anxious. They paid for their ticket and those are the emotions you get.

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“But the players  did the things they wanted to do. I genuinely felt we would score, no matter what the time was.

“I always felt the goal was coming. There have been times when I haven’t. But the work they put in tonight, the way they tried to play, a goal was coming for them.”

Bringing on Chris Martin, who forced Skrtel to turn the ball into his own net at the death, for James Forrest after an hour turned the game.

“It was time to change,” said Strachan. “We had to change when they had a man sent off and it took us 10 minutes to adjust to that and understand what was needed.

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The longer the game went, the stronger we got. We just felt it was time for Chris to come on. We tried to play around them but we needed Chris’s power. Slovakia are a powerful side with good technique. So we needed Chris and I thought he was terrific when he came on.”

Strachan’s opposite number Jan Kozak hinted that he believed the Slovakia side had been the victim of foul play since they arrived in Glasgow on Tuesday. 

It took the visitors an hour to get their  baggage at the airport and there was also a fire alarm at their hotel. Kozak was deeply unhappy with the ordering off of Robert Mak, who was sent off for a second bookable offence in the first half. 

"Since our arrival in Scotland there have been too many coincidences and I am too old and too experienced to believe in coincidences,” he said. 

But Strachan responded: “The referee made a decision. Get on with it. It was like the decision we had over there when Steven Fletcher was rugby league tackled and we just had to accept it and get on with it. Sometimes things go for you, sometimes they don’t. The referee seemed like a capable referee.”