Scotland got their Nations League campaign off to a strong start by beating Albania 2-0 at Hampden tonight.
Alex McLeish has had to deal with a tough run of friendly games going into his first competitive game as Scotland manager since returning to the job.
Friday night’s 4-0 defeat to Belgium was the hardest of those and served a reminder of the improvements that need to be mad going forward.
But tonight was a much better performance and result from the Tartan Army.
And everyone in the country will be delighted that the Nations League has started off on a positive note.
Here, we give you our Scotland player ratings after the 2-0 win:
Allan McGregor – 7
Whenever tested, McGregor passed in his usual reliable style. He had one save in particular in the second half that prevented Albania from levelling and it came shortly before Naismith added their second. Made his case for getting the gloves permanently.
Stephen O’Donnell – 8
McLeish will have learned a lot about O’Donnell in this game as he cruised up and down the right all night. Scotland have struggled to find a replacement for Alan Hutton and, while there’s still a lot to prove, O’Donnell went some way to ensuring he stays in future squads.
John Souttar – 7
Scotland need quality centre backs – and Souttar is one. He showed it tonight by being powerful in the tackle, strong in the air and great on the ball. He’s now a Scotland youth graduate.
Charlie Mulgrew – 6
Mulgrew did little wrong tonight and no doubt helped Souttar and Tierney either side of him in the three-man defence.
Kieran Tierney – 6
Tierney was his usual reliable self and showed again how he could have a future as a centre back at international level. There were some glimpses of the combination Scotland could get with him and Robertson on the left and that should be something to work on going forward.
Andy Robertson – 6
He was wasteful in the first half, but didn’t stop getting into great positions in attack. He’s kicked off his competitive tenure as captain with a win and he’ll be delighted with that.
Kevin McDonald – 5
What exactly does McDonald offer that some of the younger, more dynamic midfielders in McLeish’s squad don’t? Sure, he’s experienced, but that hasn’t helped him much in either game during this international break. He was subbed off at half-time and Scotland looked better second half without him.
John McGinn – 8
After his poor mistake against Belgium on Friday, McGinn bounced back with a dominant performance here. We’ll ignore the two or three misplaced passes and instead focus on his work rate and N’Golo Kante-esque ability to win the ball back. Everything good for Scotland came from McGinn’s tenacity in midfield.
Callum McGregor – 7
McGregor is making that number 10 position for Scotland his own and he was influential again tonight. There were numerous opportunities for the Celtic man, while his teammates benefitted from his movement and creativity in the final third, despite failing to assist a goal.
Jonny Russell – 7
Russell was a surprise inclusion in the team, but justified his manager’s decision by putting in a busy performance full of quality. The Albanian defence would have been delighted to see him go off for Griffiths in the second half.
Steven Naismith – 9
The Hearts attacker was unlucky to see the first Scotland goal go down as an own goal as it was his header that led to it hitting the net. But he got the second on the night with an opportunistic header at a corner and again justified the manager’s faith in selecting him. You know what you’re going to get with Naismith and he showed that tonight. Man of the match performance.
Stuart Armstrong – 6
Armstrong was unlucky to start on the bench for this, but replaced McDonald at the end and played an important role in the second half.
Leigh Griffiths – 4
He must have been carrying an injury if he started on the bench. Still, he got on in the second half and was unlucky not to score.
Scott McTominay – 3
McTominay didn’t get long, but impressed with his passing and energy in midfield. He’ll have more important nights for Scotland.