John McGinn scored a seventieth minute goal, and substitute Lyndon Dykes added two more headed goals from fellow substitute Ryan Fraser’s corners which were whipped into the box. Scotland were outclassed by Ukraine at Hampden 112 days ago in the World-Cup Playoff. But it was Ukraine outclassed and outmuscled here.
Scotland went with three at the back last time. An extra man in mid-field, where they lost the battle last time. No Oleksandr Zinchenko who was out injured. He bossed the game in the last match, and made it easier for Scotland to gain a foothold. Here it was 4-4-2 for traditionalists.
And it was Scotland that created most of the chances. Nathan Patterson had to go off after twenty minutes injured. He’d set up a chance for Ryan Christie and sent a ball into the box McGinn got his head to. Aaron Hickey came on and settled in to have an equally good game. Mkyhaylo Mudryk was seen as the danger man, but after a bright start, he saw little of the ball and created even less.
Valeriy Bondar was yellow carded ten minutes before half-time for fouling Che Adams. Steve Clarke had the touchline official’s ear. It was arguable whether he was the last man. And equally whether it was a goal-scoring opportunity. Taking out, is perhaps the right way to describe it. The tackle alone merited red.
Adams led the line well. He’d been played in by Tierney in the first-half but his shot was too near the keeper. Like Lyndon Dykes, he had two headed opportunities in less than a minute, in a second-half in which Scotland increasingly dominated. One off the top of the bar. Another saved by the keeper.
Stuart Armstrong also had a hat-trick of opportunities. And we’d have expected him to score one goal, maybe two or three. Despite his profligacy, his energy and speed complimented McGregor’s and kept the ball moving.
When Scotland needs a goal, it’s usually Clydebank man John McGinn who grabs it. He’d no right to get to the ball but he’s small and stocky. He uses his arse to roll defenders and when he did so in the box to open up space, the ball was always going to end up in the net.
Fraser and Dykes came on. Adams and Tierney off. Steve Clarke could do no wrong. He not only invigorated the Scotland attack. He added goals. Fraser even found time to cut in and have a pop at goal himself just before the end. It was one of those nights. Scotland even goes top of the group. I know what you’re thinking. It’ll never last. We’re Scotland after all. But they’ll be days like this.