An 89th-minute winner from substitute Craig Beattie kept alive Scotland's hopes of reaching UEFA EURO 2008™, earning new manager Alex McLeish a narrow but vital victory against Georgia at Hampden Park.
It had seemed the home side – who remain top of Group B – would have to settle for a point as Shota Arveladze cancelled out Kris Boyd's early opener in the closing stages of the first period. Scotland were unable to breach a determined visiting defence again, until Beattie controlled a Kenny Miller flick on his chest and steered a left-foot shot beyond Georgi Lomaia to spark jubilant scenes.
McLeish had enjoyed a perfect start to his reign as his team took the lead in the eleventh minute through one of the players he had signed at Rangers FC, the unmarked Boyd meeting Gary Teale's pinpoint right-wing cross and placing his header into the corner of the net. Teale and Miller spurned opportunities to extend the advantage, and the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy five minutes before the interval thanks to another player McLeish knows from his time at Ibrox.
Georgi Demetradze was the architect of the equaliser, twisting and turning down the Georgia left although his cross needed a deflection off David Weir to find its way to former Rangers forward Arveladze, who made no mistake with a close-range diving header. Lomaia produced a solid block from another Miller effort just before the hour yet was then powerless as Boyd's shot bounced over his head, only for the crossbar to come to Georgia's rescue.
Scotland pressed with increasing urgency for a winner in the final phase of the game, and with time running out, Beattie struck to take McLeish's men on to 12 points from five matches. Scotland's next fixture is in Bari against world champions Italy on Wednesday night, when Georgia – who stay on four points - are at home to the section's bottom side, the Faroe Islands.