Belfast Telegraph

McLeish reveals his pride after Scotland deliver under pressure

Scotland 2-0 Albania

On target: Steven Naismith celebrates finding the net
On target: Steven Naismith celebrates finding the net

By Ronnie Esplin

Scotland manager Alex McLeish admitted he was mightily relieved to come away with a win from their opening Uefa Nations League clash with Albania.

Steven Naismith netted twice, the first credited as an own goal after a deflection off defender Berat Xhimshiti, as the Scots picked up only their second win since McLeish took over.

The manager admitted after the game: "I am really proud of the victory tonight because we were under pressure. Everybody said we must win, and we did win.

"We know we have had very tough games in South America and we took on the Belgians and we learned an awful lot.

"I told the players I trusted them to improve on the errors of the Belgium game and they were excellent.

"It is about building a team, not papering over cracks."

Callum McGregor and Charlie Mulgrew drew saves from keeper Thomas Strakosha early with free-kicks, although the finishing touch to a series of moves was absent.

Scotland should have scored when John McGinn's lofted free-kick into the box was headed across goal by Mulgrew to Naismith but from six yards he headed off the post, and there was more frustration four minutes from the break when Naismith had the ball in the net only to be ruled offside.

The second half was barely two minutes old when skipper Andy Robertson's deep cross to the back post was met by Naismith, whose header came off Xhimshiti and into his own net.

There was relief among the Scots fans but that almost turned into despair when Bekim Balaj found himself with only Allan McGregor to beat but the keeper stuck out a leg to deflect the shot.

However, the Scots relaxed when Naismith was on hand to head a McGinn corner into an empty net.

Belfast Telegraph


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