An injury time penalty from Ryan Hardie spared Scotland’s blushed as they were held to a draw by 10-man Latvia at McDairmid Park. Roberts Uldrikis headed the visitors ahead in first half injury time, and they were reduced to 10-man when Ingars Stuglis cleaned out Chris Cadden midway through the first half. But Hardie showed nerves of steel to convert the late penalty that takes Scotland one point clear of the Netherlands in Group Four with a game in hand.
There were two changes to the Scotland side that won 2-0 against Latvia a month ago. Captain Oli Burke dropped out completely, and Dom Thomas was on the bench. Aberdeen’s Scott Wright and Barnsley’s Stevie Mallan came into the side, with John Souttar taking the armband.
Lewis Morgan’s effort brought a save out of Kristaps Zommers after two early corners were dealt with by the Latvian rear-guard. Oli McBurnie turned Morgan’s cutback into Scott Wright’s path, but the Aberdeen man mishit the shot, and Latvia cleared.
Morgan was the architect of the Scot’s next chance after 25 minutes, when he set up McBurnie with a clever back heel on the edge of the box, but Kriss Karklins got a foot to the striker’s shot before it could cause any problems for Zommers.
Floodlight failure meant a prolonged break in play, but Scotland continued pressing forward when the light returned. Stevie Mallan fizzed an effort wide from 25 yards. Liam Smith sent in a tantalising ball from the right, but an unmarked Wright hesitated, and the ball went out for a goal kick.
McBurnie did well to power his way into the box and bring a smart save out of Zommers. The resulting corner saw Scott McKenna enter the book for a foul on Ingars Stuglis. It was the second time that McKenna had headed the Latvian rather than the ball.
Despite offering little of an attacking threat, Latvia took the lead in the sixth minute of added on time, when Raivis Jurkovis headed against the crossbar, leaving the unmarked Roberts Uldrikis the simple task of heading into an empty net, despite the best efforts of Ryan Fulton.