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Drab affair at Hampden

New-look Scotland fail to impress

Alex McLeish

Alex McLeish endured a disappointing start to his second spell in charge of Scotland (pic: SNS Group)

Scotland 0, Costa Rica 1
Hampden Park

They say results in friendlies don’t matter but that won’t provide much solace for Alex McLeish after a disappointing return to the international dug out for the new Scotland manager.

There was much anticipation surrounding the new-look team, which included four debutants in the starting XI – Scott McTominay, Scott McKenna, Kevin McDonald and Oliver McBurnie. The match, though, was something of an anti-climax with the hosts succumbing to an early first-half goal from Marcus Urena.

Given the number of newcomers, it wasn’t surprising to see the Scots struggle to gel as a unit in the opening 45 minutes, the side lacking any real threat in attack against the Central Americans who will be at the World Cup this summer.

An improved second half, aided by the introduction of Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong, will have given McLeish some comfort but he will be well aware much work lies ahead if he is to make a success of his second spell in charge.

“We were never really up on them the way we wanted to be, high on the back three and make the goalie kick,” said McLeish, whose first match back was watched by 20,000 fans inside the National Stadium.

“Maybe a bit of apprehension, some new caps in the team. We’ve got five guys on the pitch who haven’t played for Scotland before and that’s a plus.

“The next step is, can they maintain and stay in the set-up? Getting a wee taste of that hopefully would’ve whetted their appetite.

“The second half was better – much more tempo, much more urgency.”

Scotland now head to Budapest for another friendly, against Hungary, on Tuesday evening, when the Tartan Army will expect better.

Scotland: McGregor, Paterson, Hanley, Mulgrew (McGinn, 82), McKenna, Robertson, Ritchie (Murphy, 87), McTominay (Armstrong, 58), McDonald,  Cairney (McGregor 58), McBurnie (Phillips 77).

Goals: Costa Rica – Urena (14).

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