In retrospect, Craig Levein was simply a manager ahead of his time. The reign of the former Scotland boss will always be remembered for a notorious defeat to the Czech Republic in Prague, when he left his starting team without any forwards. With John McGinn on the team, 4-6-0 might have worked like a dream.
Put the Aston Villa midfielder in the dark blue Scotland shirt and he’ll think he’s Harry Kane. A double in this comfortable, satisfying defeat of Group F minnows brought the former Hibs player to ten goals in 32 caps. Nine out of ten strikes have fallen in his last 14 internationals and McGinn has now scored a whopping 41 percent of the goals scored by the Scotland national team since Steve Clarke took the lead.
Quality service helps, of course. Both McGinn goals came from perfectly judged Kieran Tierney assists, the Arsenal defender making a personal hat-trick with the pass that put Che Adams ahead of the Scots 3-0 with his first international goal in three appearances with 20 minutes to play.
John McGinn gave Scotland an early lead with a neat finish from the penalty area
The midfielder jumped above his man and nodded in his second of the night in the second half
SCOTLAND: Gordon, Hanley, McTominay, Tierney (McKenna 79), Fraser (Palmer 79), McLean, McGregor (Fleck 73), McGinn, Robertson, Dykes (Nisbet 68), Adams (McBurnie 73)
Subs not used: Hendry, Gallagher, Marshall, Armstrong, Christie, O’Donnell, McLaughlin
Scorers: McGinn (7, 53), Adams (60), Fraser (70)
FAROE ISLANDS: Nielsen, Sorensen, Gunnar Vatnhamar, Nattestad (Baldvinsson 76), Davidsen, Solvi Vatnhamar (P Johannesen 69), Hansson, Andreasen (Klaemint Olsen 69), Brandur Olsen, Meinhard Olsen (Jonsson 58), Edmundsson (Vatnsdal 76)
Subs not used: Soylu, Thomsen, Knudsen, Danielsen, Bjartalid, Gestsson, Jensen
Referee: Trustin Farrugia (Malta)
The fourth goal came from a behind-post header by Ryan Fraser from an Andrew Robertson cross and made for a pleasant shine on the final score. The Newcastle man’s third international goal set the top and tails on a week of World Cup qualifiers when Steve Clarke’s side played three, drew two and won one.
The next match in Hampden is the opening match of the postponed Euro 2020 final against the Czech Republic on June 14. And as Denmark threatens to walk away with the group after a 4-0 win over Austria, evidence of Scotland is growing. team capable of challenging for second place.
McGinn’s ninth goal in Scotland created the perfect conditions for a comfortable victory after seven minutes.
Callum McGregor sent the ball to Kieran Tierney, the defender who defied his position as a left center back to let Arsenal and Celtic’s kind of overlapping run well know. His performance here once again showed that he is a great footballer wherever he plays. A perfectly judged cut-back gave McGinn the opportunity to sweep the Scotland opener low into the net with his left foot.
The capacity of Hampden Park is almost the same as the entire population of the Faroe Islands and, undefeated in nine previous gatherings, Scots everywhere reclined in their armchairs in anticipation of a turkey shoot. Despite their low ranking of 107 in the world, the visitors turned out to be a more difficult nut to crack than expected.
Never quite in the same category as a San Marino or an Andorra, the Faroe Islands embarrassed the Scots with draws in infamous European Championship qualifiers in 1999 and 2002 and their strength and athleticism were evident from the start. In center-back Sonni Nattestad, they had a player who wanted to see his chances in an arm wrestling match with Tyson Fury.
They took the lead after five minutes against Austria in Vienna on Sunday, after which they lost 3-1. Here, too, they could have shocked their more sought-after hosts in the early stages.
A heavy touch let Meinhard Olsen down when he sprinted behind the Scottish defense in the first attack of the match. Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon earned his 56th cap as a replacement for David Marshall and produced a stunning fingertip save to get Brandur Hendriksson’s thumping left foot into goal from 20 yards as Scotland came to a halt after 16 minutes.
Where Marshall was criticized for failing to stop a long-range strike from Dor Peretz in Scotland’s 1-1 draw is Israel, Gordon was equal to this one. Just as well, was the slogan.
Scottish attacker Che Adams hit a third in the hour and put the match to bed
Ryan Fraser headed in the back post to score Scotland’s fourth place and finish the defeat
After that, it never felt like Scotland was in danger again, exactly. But on an unusually chilly night in Glasgow, they struggled to work up a cup of steam for the goal until after half time.
The Scots came closest to a second goal before half-time when Scott McTominay – recovered to the right of a three-man backline – threw Fraser’s tempting free-kick into a busy area an inch wide from the upright gaze.
There was no need to panic. A goal for the good, patience was probably always a plus.
And yet. The Faroe Islands came close to the next goal in the second minute of the second half with a heartbreaking moment for the Scots.
The swirling cross from Hallur Hansson was dropped by Gordon at the feet of striker Joan Edmundsson. More than anyone amazed by the striker’s great opportunity to reach the Faroese level of 12 meters, Gordon gratefully flopped the ball with a sad grin on the second attempt. He was perhaps the only Scotsman in the stadium to smile.
Fears of another night of humiliation by one of Europe’s minnows proved mercifully short lived.
Craig Gordon was forced into a smart save to deny Brandur Hendriksson from scoring
McGinn claimed his – and Scotland – second goal eight minutes into the second half with a great downward header from an unparalleled Tierney cross. For a little boy, the midfielder got an impressive spring, the ball came in from the moment he left his head.
Scotland could now relax. The dam had now really broken through.
A very successful introduction to international football for Che Adams was marked with the goal his intelligence and poaching earned after an hour. The assist came from – who else? Tierney, a piercing pass to the Southampton man who gives time to turn his man 20 yards from the goal and hit a low-javeling right foot shot past Nielsen’s desperate plunge for 3-0.
The game won, Steve Clarke had the luxury of making changes. In an emotional moment after the recent loss of his father, Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet made his international debut as a replacement for Lyndon Dykes.
Oli McBurnie, John Fleck, Scott McKenna and Liam Palmer also took to the field just after Ryan Fraser broke in at the back post to score Scotland’s fourth goal with a downward header.
The winger’s third goal in his last three starts fueled growing optimism about Clarke’s attacking options. In anticipation of a first grand final in 23 years this summer, it’s nice to have options.