Scotland beat Ukraine to boost UEFA Nations League push
Scotland stepped up its bid to boost the Nations League and secured a measure of revenge on Ukraine with a 3-0 win in Glasgow on Wednesday. Steve Clark’s side dominated a one-sided clash at Hampden Park, but had to wait until the final 20 minutes for their goals as John McGuin opener and a brace from Lyndon Dykes propelled them to the top of Group B1. Scotland were beaten 3-1 by Ukraine in an emotionally charged World Cup play-off at Hampden Park in June.
Their failure to qualify for the first World Cup since 1998 still hurt Clarke’s players, so it was a lax result, though they would have been four months earlier.
Ukraine’s hopes of providing a rare moment of leverage in their war-torn nation by reaching the World Cup were eventually dashed as they lost to Wales in the play-off final.
The shadow of the team that defeated Scotland in the playoffs, Ukraine provided little resistance as Scotland won three of their four Nations League matches.
The Scots move to the top of the group above Ukraine while pursuing promotion to League A.
While the competition has been ridiculed by some, Scotland is well aware of the importance of the Nations League after securing the Euro 2020 play-offs by winning their Nations League group.
In their final group games, Scotland will host the Republic of Ireland on Saturday before traveling to Ukraine on 27 September.
“I am happy for the players. They have suffered more over the summer than anyone,” Clarke said.
“We did a lot of work in the short time we had, a lot of boring work in the lecture hall, and they clearly took it all on board. They were excellent.
“Sometimes you need to respond in football and it’s good that we’ve responded that way.”
Dykes said: “Obviously I wanted to influence the game, I was disappointed I wasn’t starting out. The manager went with Che (Adams).
“But I came, I changed the game and scored two goals and we got three points, that’s good.”
After a minute of applause before the start to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Scotland should have taken an immediate lead when Che Adams shot straight to Ukraine keeper Anatoly Trubin.
Adams later failed to convert Ryan Christie’s cross moments before McGuin saw Nathan Patterson’s delivery wide.
A quick start from Scotland had put Ukraine behind and the chances kept coming.
Christie went ahead of Stuart Armstrong’s cross and Armstrong forced an unsuccessful save from Trubin.
Scotland’s pace was interrupted when Everton defender Patterson was pulled with a possible knee injury.
Mykhaylo Mudryk should have capitalized on a wayward clearance from Craig Gordon, but his scuffed finish saved the Scotland keeper’s blush at the start of the second half.
Clark’s team was building up the pressure and came within a stroke of breaking the deadlock as Adams took McGinn’s cross to the bar before Trubin saved the striker’s follow-up.
By the time Armstrong offered another good chance, it looked like Scotland was destined for a disappointing night.
But McGuin rewarded Scotland’s relentless pressure in the 70th minute as the Aston Villa midfielder swung his man inside the field and fired a shot into the far corner.
Ukraine appealed for a foul but the referee did not check the monitor, even after consulting his video assistant.
QPR striker Dykes put the result beyond doubt 10 minutes later with a powerful header from fellow substitute Ryan Fraser’s corner.
Scotland were at large and Dykes scored his second goal in the 87th minute from the second Fraser Corner.
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