Malta vs Scotland. FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F.
Ta'Qali National Stadium.
Monday 5 September 2016 09:23, UK
Scotland made a winning start to their World Cup Qualifying campaign as Robert Snodgrass' hat-trick gave them a 5-1 win in Malta.
Snodgrass gave Scotland the lead with a deep cross-shot, before Albert Effiong's superb header brought the hosts back level.
Chris Martin put Scotland back ahead from close range in the second half, before Snodgrass added a third from the spot after a questionable penalty award, which saw Malta defender Jonathan Caruana sent off.
Substitute Steven Fletcher headed in a fourth for Gordon Strachan's side, before Snodgrass' hat-trick was completed late on with a simple finish, leaving Scotland top of Group F after the opening match day.
Malta, who saw Luke Gambin sent off in stoppage time for lashing out at Snodgrass, have won just one competitive game since October 2006, while Scotland are looking to reach their first since 1998.
The highly-rated Oliver Burke, Red Bull Leipzig's new £13m signing from Nottingham Forest, made his first start for Scotland, with Martin starting up front following his loan move to Fulham.
Andrew Robertson had the first chance of an incident-filled opening 45 minutes, seeing his effort from close range blocked by Andrew Hogg.
Scotland took the lead on nine minutes through Snodgrass, whose deep cross-shot found its way into the top corner of Hogg's net, and only the Hull forward will know whether it was intentional or not.
Just four minutes later Malta were level, Effiong powering a fine header home from a right-wing cross after getting in between Scotland's defenders.
Snodgrass nearly regained Scotland's lead midway through the first half, but his unmarked header was saved well by Hogg at point-blank range.
Grant Hanley glanced a header just wide and Robertson pulled an effort past the post later in the half, but Malta could have gone into the break 2-1 up, Andre Schembri's poked effort from inside the area slipping just wide.
Scotland were back ahead eight minutes after the break through Martin, who tapped home Matt Ritchie's superb left-wing cross from close range.
It was 3-1 six minutes later in controversial fashion as Scotland were awarded a penalty, Caruana being penalised for a challenge on Martin despite not touching the Fulham forward. Scotland did not appeal for a penalty, but Snodgrass sent Hogg the wrong way from the spot.
Fletcher made it 4-1 just 10 minutes after coming on, heading home from close range after Ritchie's deflected cross from the right, and Snodgrass completed his hat-trick with five minutes remaining.
After Fletcher had rounded Hogg and lofted his effort onto the bar, Snodgrass was on hand to slot home easily from six yards.
Malta were reduced to nine men late on as Barnet midfielder Gambin was dismissed for kicking Snodgrass, meaning he'll miss his side's clash against England at Wembley in October.