Scotland 1-2 Russia: Visitors bounce back to sink Scots
Steve Clarke's side took the lead but were outclassed in the Euro 2020 qualifier at Hampden.
Scotland endured a tough night at Hampden as they were beaten 2-1 by Russia in their Euro 2020 qualifier.
Steve Clarke's side had spent the week preparing for the double-header against the Russians and Belgium knowing that points were needed to rejuvenate the qualification campaign, and with the visit of the world's number one side to come on Monday, the first match of the pair took on a must-win status.
The head coach couldn't have asked for a better start as his side looked creative and bright from the off, pinning back their higher-ranked opponents and making an early breakthrough after ten minutes.
Ryan Fraser made himself space on the left and whipped in a cross that Russian goalkeeper Guilherme couldn't hold and John McGinn was perfectly placed on the six-yard line to slam home.
Russia were rocked and Scotland's fans found voice, singing Clarke's name. But Russia soon began to find their feet and the balance changed, the hosts sitting back deeper and deeper to contain attacks left, right and through the centre.
Just as eyes turned to the clock to see how long was left to hang on until half-time, the equaliser arrived. Russian captain Artem Dzyuba, who had been a handful all night, pounced on an unfortunate deflection off Andy Robertson and took a touch before firing past David Marshall.
After the break, Russia came out a team rejuvenated and stretched Scotland's back line time after time. Charlie Mulgrew blocked a goal bound shot and moments later Aleksandr Golovin fired high and wide.
Just before the hour mark the resistance was broken and Russia were ahead. Golovin broke free on the right and drilled in a low cross which Yury Zhirkov slid in to meet with Stephen o'Donnell fighting to clear. The pair met the ball at the back post and it nestled into the corner with O'Donnell judged to have made the key contact.
Russia pushed home their advantage and would have added to the scoreline but for saves from Marshall and a later goal-line clearance from Mulgrew.
A late rally saw Scotland win a free-kick on the edge of the box and an opportunity to nick a point but Mulgrew's shot curled wide of the post.
The result means Scotland remain in fourth place in Group I and in all likelihood will have to rely on the Nations League play-offs to qualify for next year's Euros.