Scotland beat Ukraine to boost Nations League push

Scotland’s Lyndon Dykes (third from left) heads in his side’s second goal against Ukraine. (AP image)

GLASGOW: Scotland have stepped up their bid for promotion to the Nations League and took revenge today with a 3-0 win over Ukraine in Glasgow.

Steve Clarke’s side dominated a one-sided encounter at Hampden Park but had to wait until the final 20 minutes for their goals when John McGinn’s opener and Lyndon Dyke’s brace sent 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 a first World Cup since 1998 still hurts Clarke’s players so this was a cathartic result, although one they would have preferred four months ago.

Ukraine’s hopes of bringing their war-torn nation a rare moment of ease by reaching the World Cup were finally dashed when they lost to Wales in the play-off final.

Ukraine, a shadow of the team that defeated Scotland in the playoffs, offered little resistance as Scotland recorded three wins in their four Nations League games.

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The Scots have moved to the top of the group via Ukraine as they pursue promotion to League A.

While the competition are derided by some, Scotland are aware of the importance of the Nations League after securing a Euro 2020 play-off by winning their Nations League group.

Scotland host the Republic of Ireland in their final group games on Saturday before heading to Ukraine on 27 September.

“I’m happy for the players. They suffered more than anyone over the summer,” Clarke said.

“We did a lot of work in the short time we had, a lot of it very boring classroom work, and they obviously took it all with them. They were excellent.

“Sometimes you have to react in football and it’s nice that we reacted that way.”

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Dykes added: “Of course I wanted to influence the game, I was disappointed that I didn’t start. The manager went with Che (Adams).

“But I progressed, I changed the game and scored two goals and we took three points, so it’s good.”

After a minute of applause before kick-off to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Scotland should have taken an immediate lead when Che Adams shot straight at Ukraine goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin.

Adams soon failed to convert Ryan Christie’s cross moments later before Nathan Patterson’s delivery was wide-eyed by McGinn.

Scotland’s quick start had pushed Ukraine back and the chances kept coming.

Christie headed over from Stuart Armstrong’s cross and Armstrong forced a fumbling save from Trubin.

Dykes is on strike

Scotland’s momentum was cut short when Everton defender Patterson was taken off the stretcher with a possible knee injury.

Mykhaylo Mudryk should have capitalized on an erratic clearance from Craig Gordon but his battered finish saved the Scottish goalkeeper’s blush early in the second half.

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Clarke’s team kept pressing and came within a hair’s breadth of breaking the block when Adams headed McGinn’s cross onto the bar before Trubin saved the striker’s port.

As Armstrong missed another good chance, Scotland looked set for a frustrating night.

But McGinn rewarded Scotland’s relentless pressure in the 70th minute when the Aston Villa midfielder rolled his man into the box and fired into the far corner.

Ukraine appealed for a foul but the referee didn’t look at the monitor after taking advice from his video assistant.

QPR forward Dykes put the score in doubt 10 minutes later with a powerful header from substitute Ryan Fraser’s corner.

Scotland were rampant and Dykes headed their second goal from another Fraser corner in the 87th minute.

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