Scotland made it seven games unbeaten with a vital 1-0 win over Slovakia in the Nations League.
A first half of virtually nothing played out before Lyndon Dykes netted his second Scotland goal and the winner with a lovely first-time finish in the second half. Steve Clarke’s side sit one point clear at the top of their Nations League group after two wins and a draw in the opening three matches.
Off the back of a crucial Euro 2020 play-off semi-final victory over Israel on Thursday, where Scotland played 120 minutes, this was set to be a test of endurance for Clarke’s men. It was why the likes of 33-year-old Aberdeen defender Andy Considine were called up to help ahead of the two Nations League matches.
This was the first before Czech Republic travelled to Hampden on Wednesday. It’s hard to recall much of note in the first 45, neither side having anything to shout about in attack, Scotland not registering a single shot on target.
Kenny McLean had a pop from distance whilst the defence was doing a grand job of keeping Slovakia quiet, Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay continuing his development at centre-back alongside Motherwell skipper Declan Gallagher, who was also performing well. Considine was showing his Dons experience in navy blue.
Dykes would finally set some attacking wheels in motion 52 minutes in. Stephen O’Donnell floated a lovely ball into the area, which QPR’s new frontman met nicely to stroke into the Slovakian net.
This gave Scotland something to defend and they did that well, Slovakia doing very little to trouble Scots goalkeeper David Marshall. The game’s next big chance would fall to Oli McBurnie, who hit the bar as a first Scotland goal continues to allude him.
But it didn’t matter to the result, Clarke’s side showing good game management to shut the Slovakians out and secure a great three points on the road to 2022 World Cup qualification. Here are three things we learned.
The back three
It was another great night for those in Clarke’s back three. Manchester United man McTominay is settling in well at centre-back and is beginning to look like a solid option in that position.
Gallagher is proving he can meet the standard required at international level whilst Considine performed admirably on his first senior appearance at international level.
Dykes is thriving in navy blue
It’s turning out to be an inspired choice for Dykes to choose Scotland as his national team. The decision has worked out for everyone involved, the forward scoring two in his first four matches.
In every clash he has been a nuisance to the backline and it’ll do him the world of good to grab another goal. He is proving to be Scotland’s go-to man in attack right now.
An effective method
It’s fair to say that the last few Scotland games haven’t been pretty on the eye. Again Clarke’s side had chances come at a premium here but it has been much the same at the other end too.
One thing Scotland have managed to do is grind out the results regardless and it’s now seven unbeaten for the national side. Say what you want about Clarke’s style of football, it sure is effective at getting results.