September 4, 2017 / 9:35 PM / 10 months ago

Scotland, Slovenia set up dramatic finale with home wins

GLASGOW (Reuters) - Scotland and Slovenia set up a dramatic finale to their World Cup qualifying group with straightforward home wins which put them within one point of second-placed Slovakia on Monday.

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Scotland vs Malta - Glasgow, Britain - September 4, 2017 Scotland’s Leigh Griffiths scores their second goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Christophe Berra and Leigh Griffiths scored early in each half to give Scotland a 2-0 win at home to Malta although they may regret their failure to add more goals to the tally.

Slovenia hammered Lithuania 4-0 at home in another Group F match to move ahead of Scotland on goal difference.

Slideshow (7 Images)

Josip Ilicic converted penalties in the 25th and 61st minutes before Benjamin Verbic and substitute Valter Birsa scored in the final 10 minutes.

Slovenia and Scotland have 14 points each, one behind Slovakia who lost 2-1 away to group leaders England.

Scotland host Slovakia and visit Slovenia in their final two matches, while Slovakia’s other game is at home to Malta and Slovenia visit England, who are five points clear.

The winners of the nine European groups qualify directly for Russia next year and the eight best runners-up go into a playoff round for four more places.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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