Gordon Strachan’s side, which underwent six changes after the defeat by Wales on Friday, withstood the pressure in the first half but things unravelled after the break as Djuricic scored twice in six minutes to seal Serbia’s win and leave the Scots rock-bottom of Group A on two points, with their hopes of reaching Brazil next year now over.
Serbia were the side in control from the opening minutes, with Djuricic charging towards goal in the first 60 seconds, prompting goalkeeper David Marshall to hold him off. The hosts then continued to apply pressure as a challenge from George Boyd – making his international debut alongside Liam Bridcutt – on Dusan Tadic in the box had Serbia calling for a penalty, but the referee was unmoved.
A minute later, Serbia had their first real chance as Dusan Basta unleashed a shot from the edge of the box, which Marshall got his gloves to before managing to smother it. More opportunities followed for the hosts, with Basta proving dangerous again as his chipped-in cross from the right was met by the climbing Branislav Ivanovic, but his header was directed wide. Djuricic then prompted another save from Marshall after darting around Grant Hanley to get a shot away.
Despite that error, Hanley was putting in some admirable contributions at the back, most notably when he got a vital foot to Zoran Tosic’s tidy delivery into the box to flick it to safety and out of reach of the lurking Basta. Tosic was involved in another chance soon after as he turned to shoot from 20 yards, but his effort bounced over the uneven pitch and across the face of goal, sneaking just wide of the far post.
Scotland began to grow into the game as the half went on, with Strachan’s men having an unsuccessful penalty shout of their own when Matija Nastasic slid in to cut out an attempted Boyd cross on the left of the box and appeared to handle the ball.
More admirable defending from the visitors then kept Serbia at bay as they upped the tempo again in the dying minutes of the first half, with Hanley making another key clearance on Tadic and Boyd charging in to subdue the threatening-looking forward on the right wing seconds later.
Scotland started the second half brightly as half-time substitute Charlie Adam set up Steven Naismith for a shot and he blasted the ball into the net but the effort was flagged offside. Adam and Jordan Rhodes, on his first competitive international start, were booked moments later – the former for a sliding challenge on Ljubomir Fejsa and the latter for taking a shot after the whistle had blown.
Rhodes then had a chance for Scotland after a miss-kick from Neven Subotic allowed him through on goal but his tame shot went straight into the arms of goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Seconds after that weak effort things started to unravel for the visitors as Serbia finally broke the deadlock in the 59th minute. On the counter-attack, Tosic charged down the left before crossing a ball into the box and prompting a goalmouth scramble. Fejsa’s attempted shot was cut out but Djuricic was there with a powerful finish to put Serbia 1-0 up.
It did not take long for them to double their advantage. Six minutes later it was Djuricic that struck again after some poor defending from the Scots. A shaky back-pass from Caldwell went straight to Nenad Tomovic and after evading Hutton and seeing his shot saved, Djuricic was able to slot home the rebound.
There was a late chance for Scotland to haul themselves back into it when Nastasic charged in on Adam on the edge of the area, handing the visitors a free-kick from a dangerous position, but his resulting delivery clipped the wall and Stojkovic was able to collect with relative ease.