Albania 0-4 Scotland
UEFA Nations League
Saturday, 17 November
7.45pm (UK time) kick-off
Loro Boriҫi Stadium, Shkodër
Scotland: Fraser (14’), Fletcher, pen (45’), Forrest (55' & 67')
There were maiden senior international goals for Ryan Fraser and James Forrest, as a terrific performance saw Scotland seal an emphatic victory over Albania in Shkodër.
Scotland started brightly, pushing high up the pitch within the first minute of the match – Ryan Fraser breaking into the Albanian box and getting a shot away after only seconds played.
It was not until the eleventh minute, however, that the first real chance of the match appeared. A deep cross from Memushaj had Uzuni stretching at Allan McGregor’s near-post, but the Albanian striker couldn’t connect.
It was Ryan Fraser who made the breakthrough for Scotland, as he opened the scoring with a terrific solo goal, cutting into the box from the left and – despite having numerous Albanian defenders around him – he placed a fine driving shot past Berisha in the Albanian goal.
A memorable first Scotland goal for the AFC Bournemouth man and the vocal Scotland fans in the stands. Credit must go to Ryan Christie who closed down the opposition to regain possession and set Fraser off on his scoring move.
Things only got worse for Albania after stand-in captain Mërgim Mavraj was given his marching orders after 21 minutes played; a poor tackle saw the midfielder given a first yellow, before he seemingly lashed out at Andy Robertson, earning him a second yellow in the space of a few seconds.
Scotland looked to capitalise on their man advantage, with Forrest and Paterson looking bright on the right hand-side. Forrest linked up well with his Celtic team-mate, Ryan Christie, with half an hour gone, but Christie was unable to keep his powerful shot on target.
Manaj for the hosts proved a nuisance to the central defensive partnership of David Bates – winning his first cap for Scotland – and Scott McKenna. The Albanian number ten breaking into the box on a couple of occasions – neither of his shots, troubling Allan McGregor however.
James Forrest continued to look bright; his shot from inside the box was dragged wide – though he may claim it to be a cross with the onrushing Steven Fletcher nearly getting a touch to tap it in.
Fraser could have made it two shortly before the half – his shot palmed away by the Albanian ‘keeper, Steven Fletcher’s follow-up shot deflected wide for a corner, which was well-defended by the hosts.
Steven Fletcher linked up well with the energetic Christie a minute before the break, before the Celtic man was felled – a free-kick in a dangerous position for Scotland. Stuart Armstrong’s fierce shot was handled inside the box – penalty Scotland.
The returning Steven Fletcher kept his cool to send the keeper the wrong way and score his tenth goal in a Scotland shirt. The Sheffield Wednesday front man’s strike was to be the last action of the half.
Albania were in defiant mood following the break – Uzuni’s shot five minutes into the half had Allan McGregor diving for his left-hand post. It, thankfully, went wide.
James Forrest made it 3-0 to Scotland after 55 minutes on the clock; a terrific ball through the midfield from Ryan Christie was collected by Forrest, who drove forward, fending off his marker to fire a shot into the back of the net.
Albania showed an immediate reaction to the third goal; Grezda – a familiar face for many in the Scotland squad – did well to turn quickly in the Scotland box to get a shot away, but it went wide for the Rangers winger.
James Forrest, having already scored his first for Scotland, doubled his tally in spectacular style. Ryan Fraser laid it inside to Forrest, a delightful first touch to flick it up, then bang – a volley into the back of the net.
Johnny Russell, Ryan Christie and Scott McTominay produced some fantastic interplay, and they were unlucky not to make it 5-0. Russell laid off to Christie, who dummied to McTominay – his fierce shot glanced off the bar.
Cries of ‘ole’ were audible throughout the Loro Boriҫi Stadium in the final five minutes, as the fantastic Scotland support made their enjoyment of the performance heard. The stadium where the Scotland Women’s National Team qualified for the World Cup has created another set of happy memories for the travelling support.
What next for Scotland?
It’s back to Hampden on Tuesday for the final match of our UEFA Nations League campaign, as we take on Israel. You can get your tickets here.
Albania: Berisha (GK), Veseli, Xhimshiti (Dermaku 52’), Grezda, Memushaj, Manaj (Balaj 61’), Xhaka, Mavraj (C), Binaku, Kaçe (Ismajil 28’), Uzuni.
Booked: Manaj (13’), Grezda (88'). Red card: Mavraj (21’).
Scotland: A. McGregor (GK), Paterson, Robertson (C), Bates, McKenna, C. McGregor, Forrest, Armstrong (Mctominay 60’), Fraser (Russell 72’), S. Fletcher (Phillips 68’), Christie
Unused substitutes: Bain (GK), MacDonald (GK), Hendry, Shinnie, Mackay-Steven, McBurnie.
Booked: Paterson (11’), McKenna (60'), Bates (65'), Russell (80’)