Scotland striker Lyndon Dykes celebrates after scoring against Ukraine
Glasgow (AFP) – Scotland boosted their bid for promotion to the United Nations League and got a measure of revenge against Ukraine with a 3-0 victory in Glasgow on Wednesday.
Steve Clark’s side dominated a one-sided encounter at Hampden Park but had to wait until the last 20 minutes to score their goals as opener John McGinn and a Lyndon Dykes double sent them top of Group B1.
Scotland lost 3-1 to Ukraine in an emotionally charged World Cup playoff at Hampden Park in June.
Their failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 still hurt Clark’s players, so this was a cathartic result, albeit one they would have preferred four months ago.
Ukraine’s hopes of providing a rare moment of flight for their war-torn country by eventually reaching the World Cup were dashed when they lost to Wales in the final.
Shadow of the team that beat Scotland in the qualifiers, Ukraine offered little resistance as Scotland racked up three wins out of four Nations League matches.
The Scots moved above Ukraine to the top of the group as they chase promotion to the top flight.
While some have scoffed at the competition, Scotland are well aware of the importance of the Nations League after securing a playoff at Euro 2020 by winning their Nations League group.
In their last group game, Scotland host the Republic of Ireland on Saturday before they travel to Ukraine on September 27.
“I’m happy for the players. They suffered more in the summer than anyone else,” Clark said.
“We did a lot of work in our short span, a lot of it very boring work in the lecture room, they obviously took everything on board. It was excellent.
“Sometimes you need to respond in football and it’s good that we responded in this way.”
Dykes added: “Obviously I wanted to influence the match, I was disappointed that I didn’t start. The manager went with Che (Adams).
“But I went in, I changed the game and I got two goals and we got three points so that’s good.”
After a minute of applause before kick-off to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Scotland should have taken the lead immediately when Ukraine goalkeeper Che Adams fired straight at Anatoly Tropin.
Adams narrowly failed to convert Ryan Christie’s cross moments later before McGinn caught a glimpse of Nathan Patterson’s delivery.
Scotland’s quick start pushed Ukraine down and opportunities continued to emerge.
Christie headed from Stuart Armstrong’s cross and forced Armstrong to save the ball from Tropin.
– Dam strikes –
Scotland’s momentum was halted when Everton defender Patterson sustained a knee injury.
Mikhailo Modric should have benefited from a misguided foul from Craig Gordon but his zigzag finish saved the Scotland keeper’s shame early in the second half.
Clarke’s side kept pressing and entered the deadlock-breaking trail when Adams sent McGinn’s cross to the crossbar before Tropin saved the forward’s pursuit.
By the time Armstrong presented himself with another good chance, it seemed that Scotland was destined for a frustrating night.
But McGinn rewarded relentless Scottish pressure in the 70th minute as the Aston Villa midfielder rolled his leg into the area and smashed it into the far corner.
Ukraine claimed a foul but the referee did not check the screen after receiving advice from his video assistant.
The Queens Park Rangers striker put the score beyond doubt 10 minutes later with a powerful header from the corner of fellow substitute Ryan Fraser.
Scotland were rampant and Dykes headed his second goal from another Fraser corner kick in the 87th minute.