Scotland boss Gordon Strachan hit back at critics of Chris Martin after the on-loan Fulham striker kept alive his side’s slim chances of World Cup qualification with a late winner in their 1-0 victory over Slovenia.
Booed onto the pitch by a section of Scotland’s supporters after replacing West Brom’s James Morrison in the 82nd minute, Martin responded in perfect fashion by netting a deserved clincher.
Their success moved Scotland above Lithuania into fourth place although they remain six points adrift of Group F leaders England, and two behind Slovakia in second.
“Chris Martin gets a good reception from the players and staff, that’s why we pick him,” said Strachan. “Kenny Dalglish was booed, so was Gary McAllister and Alan Hansen – he must be some player.
“The players pushed themselves to another level tonight. We have got ourselves back into contention.”
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, boosted their chances of a play-off spot with a 2-0 victory over Norway. Forwards Jamie Ward and Conor Washington were on target.