Euro 2020 qualifiers
Scots secure win but pressure mounting on McLeish
Pressure mounting on McLeish (pic: SNS Group)
San Marino 0 Scotland 2
San Marino Stadium
The pressure continues to mount on Scotland manager Alex McLeish after another insipid performance in the wake of the calamity in Kazakhstan.
The howls of derision from the Tartan Army which greeted the final whistle were telling and the jury remains out on whether McLeish is the man to take the national team forward.
San Marino, with a population approaching just 34,000, are officially ranked as the world’s worst football team yet Scotland struggled to impose their authority on their opponents and failed to record the convincing win which would have at least helped to erase some of the memories of Thursday night’s debacle in the Astana Stadium.
Despite getting off to the ideal start with a goal from Kenny McLean after just four minutes, the Scots had to wait until 16 minutes from time to net their second when Johnny Russell netted his first for his country.
The hosts had their chances in the opening period but thankfully for McLeish, a lack of composure in front of goal saved further embarrassment.
The visitors huffed and puffed their way through the 90 minutes, with the one positive being the team has now finally put points on the board in Group I.
Goalscorer Russell said: “It was tough to find spaces. We could have done more, we could have created more. It’s a win we were expected to get but it could have been a lot better from us.”
Scotland take on Cyprus at Hampden Park on June 8 in their next qualifier before heading to group favourites Belgium on June 11 with the performances in both games key to the chances of McLeish staying in the post longer term.
Scotland: Bain, O’Donnell, Bates, McKenna, Robertson, McLean, McGregor (McTominay, 57), Russell, Armstrong (Forrest, 71), Fraser, Paterson (McNulty, 37).
Goals: McLean, Russell.
Elsewhere in the group, Russia eased to a 4-0 win away to Kazakhstan while Belgium won 2-0 in Cyprus.