13 October 2019 21:03
John McGinn scored a first-half hat-trick as Scotland defeated San Marino 6-0 on an increasingly waterlogged Hampden pitch. Lawrence Shankland and Stuart Findlay got their first international goals during a second half played in terrible conditions. The ball held up with every pass in the second half, with the heavy rain continuing throughout the game. While there was a limit to what can be taken from beating the world's lowest ranked team on such a pitch, Scotland did move up to fourth spot in Group I of the European Championship qualifiers. With Cyprus and Kazakhstan both losing, Scotland are now a point off third ahead of playing both teams next month, and have a chance to boost morale before the play-offs in March.
Read more Steve Clarke made six changes following the 4-0 defeat in Russia on Thursday, Scotland's fourth loss in succession. The Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin won his second cap, the Kilmarnock defender Findlay made his debut, Scott McTominay returned from suspension, the Celtic midfielders Ryan Christie and James Forrest were recalled, and Shankland made his first start up front. Scotland forced six corners inside the first nine minutes but both McTominay and Michael Devlin failed to get headers on target. Shankland also had a good early chance from James Forrest's cutback but the San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini pulled off an outstanding stop. The opener was not long in coming though as McGinn got a deft touch on Christie's 12th-minute shot following Andy Robertson's diagonal ball.
'We need to be better': Harry Maguire admits England defence must improve Read more Shankland rolled the ball home from 12 yards after McTominay's strike cracked off the bar in the 65th minute, and Findlay headed home Christie's corner from close range two minutes later. McGinn was looking to become the first Scotland player to hit four in a game since Colin Stein in 1969, and he forced a save from long range just before being taken off in the 70th minute. Johnny Russell had a shot stopped before fellow substitute Armstrong benefited from a misunderstanding in the 87th minute. The San Marino goalkeeper picked the ball up outside his box after Shankland appeared to be fouled in the centre circle. The referee had waved play on though and Scotland found themselves with a free-kick 25 yards out.
Battling through a biblical Glasgow downpour, Steve Clarke's side were comfortable winners against the nation ranked as the worst in world football. San Marino boasted only two professional players in their starting XI and it showed, with John McGinn opening the scoring after just 12 minutes when he appeared to get a toe to Ryan Christie's curling shot. There was no doubt about the Aston Villa man's second as he converted from close range after San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini had pushed a cross back into danger. McGinn completed a first-half hat-trick when he turned it home from close range following a well-worked corner routine. Lawrence Shankland joined the party in the second half, though the Dundee United man was slightly offside, and debutant Stuart Findlay headed home a fifth. Stuart Armstrong curled home a late free-kick to complete the rout, in a game which risked being called-off due to the inclement weather. Clarke will hope this big win will build confidence ahead of those Nations League play-offs, with qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan still to come. PRIDE is at stake for Scotland as they host minnows San Marino at Hampden. After a 4-0 thumping in Russia the Scots will turn their attention to the Nations League for Euro 2020 qualification - but will want a morale-boosting result here. Team news: Scotland XI - McLaughlin, Palmer, Robertson (c), Devlin, McTominay, McGinn, Shankland, McGregor, Findlay, Forrest, Christie.