Scotland kick off Nations League campaign with win over Armenia

The national team were 2-0 winners at Hampden in the group opener.

Scotland kick off Nations League campaign with win over Armenia SNS Group

Scotland’s Nations League campaign started with a victory as Steve Clarke’s side beat Armenia 2-0.

The team bounced back from the disappointment of last week’s World Cup play-off defeat with a comfortable win at the national stadium.

Scotland dominated possession throughout and a goal from Anthony Ralston on his first start, and one from Scott McKenna on his 25th cap, were enough to take three points.

Manager Steve Clarke made six changes from last week’s loss, changing his three-man defence entirely. Ryan Christie replaced Lyndon Dykes in attack and Stuart Armstrong came into midfield.

Scotland started brightly. In the fifth minute Andy Robertson crossed from deep and Ralston was at the back post, cutting back for Armstrong to hit a first time shot across goal. He saw the ball come off the post but it was an encouraging sign for a team needing a lift.

Two minutes later there was another chance, Ralston’s low cross finding no takers in the middle but Robertson fizzing a shot past the post. A Hendry header straight at the keeper soon after kept the pressure on as Scotland asserted themselves.

Armenia were struggling to get out but kept the Scotland defence on their toes after 13 minutes when a long ball over the top gave Spertsyan a chance to run through but his shot didn’t trouble Craig Gordon.

John McGinn was a lively presence in midfield and he had a couple of shots from distance that went over the bar as Scotland looked for an opener.

Ralston was enjoying his first start and was constantly pushing high on the right, and that brought reward as the half hour mark approached. Armstrong curled in a cross from the left and the defender was free to header back across goal and past David Yurchenko into the net.

Despite being a goal down, Armenia stayed deep and Scotland were able to enjoy a lot of the ball, looking to find openings but finding it hard to get through a packed defence.

A move similar to the one that brought the goal saw McGinn’s ball in headed across goal by Adams but Ryan Christie’s volley went over the bar.

McGregor was next to have a go, his lifted shot deflected over. That brought the corner that delivered the second goal.

McGinn put the ball in on top of the keeper and Scott McKenna rose highest to score on the night he earned his 25th cap.

The Nottingham Forest defender thought he had a second just before half time when he headed off the bar, then volleyed home when the rebound was nodded across goal. VAR intervened though, showing the defender was offside with his original attempt.

The start of the second half mirrored the first, with Scotland largely camped out in the Armenia half.

Christie had a golden opportunity from a McGinn cross but put his header wide with the first big chance of the half.

Adams had a shot blocked, then Ralston after a corner as the Scots were repeatedly coming up against a packed defence.

Vahan Bichakhchyan got in behind the Scotland defence on a rare foray forward but McKenna got back to cover in time.

With 20 minutes to go, Clarke freshened things up. Nathan Patterson, Aaron Hickey and Scott McTominay replaced Ralston, Robertson and Armstrong.

Adams had another chance, holding off his marker but unable to beat Yurchenko from six yards out. With ten minutes to go, McGinn then went close when his powerful shot was tipped on to the bar.

Jacob Brown and Ross Stewart were brought on for the last stretch, the forwards replacing Christie and Adams.McGinn had been a danger all night and had two more efforts in the final minutes but there were no more goals and Scotland were content with a decisive win ahead of their trip to play Republic of Ireland on Saturday.

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