5 things we learned from Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Cyprus
Steve Clark began his Scotland reign with a 2-1 victory over Cyprus in their Euro 2020 qualifying group.
The Scots needed an 89th-minute winner from Oliver Burke to provide their new boss with a winning start.
Here are five things we learned from the Hampden clash.
Steve Clarke’s honeymoon period survives intact
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 8, 2019
The former Chelsea defender was an overwhelmingly popular choice as Scotland manager but he had less than three weeks in the post before a game that risked upsetting the feelgood factor. Andy Robertson’s stunning goal looked like maintaining the positivity until the Liverpool left-back lost his man at an 87th-minute corner and the visitors levelled. But Burke popped up to rescue the occasion and possibly the campaign.
Scotland’s qualification hopes remain alive
Emerging from the opening two games against the lowest-ranked teams in the group with three points and a negative goal difference left Scotland chasing big results. A home game against the fourth seeds could not make up any ground but anything less than a win would have made the task mountainous. Victory provides the chance to seek redemption for Kazakhstan elsewhere but they will need to make sure they do not give up as many chances as they did against Cyprus.
David Marshall is Scotland’s new number one
The 34-year-old was called in from the cold to make his first Scotland start in almost three years and win his 28th cap, with Scott Bain demoted to the bench after starting the campaign following Allan McGregor’s international retirement. The Hull goalkeeper was a regular under Gordon Strachan but lost his place after barely playing for his club in 2017. The former Celtic and Cardiff player made good stops in each half and comfortably held several other efforts before being left exposed for the equaliser.
Winning the Champions League turns you into a long-range specialist
Andy Robertson had an ambitious effort before launching a shot into the top corner from almost 25 yards. The Liverpool left-back had not scored in 55 previous appearances this season for club and country but he made sure he stayed on a high following his team’s European triumph in Madrid seven days earlier.
Burke has staked a claim for the striker’s role
With Oli McBurnie and Callum Paterson joining Steven Naismith, Steven Fletcher and Leigh Griffiths on the unavailable list following March’s double header, Clarke gave Kilmarnock striker Eamonn Brophy a debut up front. The former Hamilton player had little joy and Scotland had a major height disadvantage when they flighted in crosses. Burke solved that problem when he rose to head Ryan Fraser’s delivery and he was on hand to net his first international goal from the rebound.