International Challenge Match
Peru 2 - 0 Scotland
Wednesday, 30 May 2018, kick off 2am (UK time)
Estadio Nacional, Lima, Peru
Peru: Cueva (37), Farfan (48)
Alex McLeish’s experimental Scotland side produced a disciplined performance in South America, handing debuts to no less than seven players in a 2-0 defeat to a Peruvian side with more than 700 caps in their squad.
With the match Peru’s last on home soil before they departed for their first FIFA World Cup in 36 years, a party atmosphere was expected prior to kick-off – and the Peruvian fans did not disappoint.
The stadium was more than half full an hour before kick-off with the home fans in full voice. When kick-off came, the Estadio Nacional erupted in a cacophony of noise – one that barely let up throughout the evening.
The Peruvians began brightly, attacking Scotland down the wings at pace. Debutant Scotland keeper Archer had to be alert to push away a 25 yard free kick on only the fifth minute, with the resultant Peruvian corner amounting to nothing.
The home side were enjoying the bulk of possession in the opening stages, patiently probing at Scotland, with much of their attacking play focused down the right flank towards star winger Jefferson Farfan. Lewis Stevenson, making his debut at left back, was tested with a few raking passes but recovered sharply on each occasion.
Scotland began to get a foothold into the game after a nervous opening ten minutes, with Matt Phillips incorrectly judged offside from a long pass that would have seen him through on goal from 30 yards out.
High pressing was proving to be a useful tactic for Scotland and when they won the ball back deep in the Peruvian half, Kenny McLean was brought down on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick was played in deep into the box, but Scotland could not find the finishing touch.
Scott McKenna, making his third appearance for Scotland, then strode out of defence before playing the ball to Phillips. The powerful striker’s perseverance was rewarded with a corner, though the delivery from McGeouch, another player making his Scotland debut, failed to clear the first man.
The fourth debutant in the starting eleven, Stephen O’Donnell, was the next to show his worth. Dogged determination saw him come away with the ball from a series of challenges in the opposition half, before he released Phillips down the right side.
The striker’s low cross came in behind the onrushing Murphy, though the defence could only clear for a throw-in before ultimately conceding a corner. A devilishly whipped delivery from McLean saw Scotland captain Mulgrew hurl himself at the incoming ball, only for Carvallo in the Peruvian goals to grasp the ball before it could reach the Scotland skipper.
With Scotland’s confidence up, a driving run from Murphy down the left side was unceremoniously halted in a dangerous area on the edge of the box. Another dangerous free kick, this time from Stevenson, saw McKenna get his head to the ball inside the box, though he was unable to keep his effort down.
Despite arguably being on top, Scotland went behind in the 37th minute when Archer failed to collect a long ball over the top of the defence. With the ball loose in the area and Archer out of position, Farfan smashed the ball goalward only to see it ricochet off McKenna’s arm, the referee pointing to the spot amidst a chorus of jeers from the home fans.
Though Archer guessed correctly, Cueva’s penalty was drilled into the bottom left corner – the stadium erupting in joy at the sight of the goal they so desperately craved in the carnival atmosphere.
Though Scotland found themselves down at half time, Alex McLeish’s inexperienced side had largely matched their opponents and could count themselves somewhat unfortunate to be behind.
Scotland found themselves two behind within three minutes of the match restarting when a dangerous through ball released Peru down the left side of the box. The resultant cutback found the talismanic Farfan, who slotted underneath Archer, who was unable to get enough of his body behind the ball to keep it out.
With Peru enjoying the bulk of play, Alex McLeish sought to freshen things up on 62 minutes, taking Murphy and McGinn off and replacing them with McBurnie and Paterson, the former leading the line now with Phillips moved wide left.
The substitutes served to settle Scotland, who gradually began to obtain a foothold in the game again.
McLeish then handed a fifth debut for the evening, with Lewis Morgan replacing Phillips on the left wing on the 70th minute.
The substitute had an immediate impact, beating a couple of men to create some space in the middle of the park before releasing the advancing Paterson down the right. His dangerous cross found the feet of McBurnie at the back post, but the striker was unable to kill the cross with his first touch, Carvallo smothering the ball to nullify the danger.
The sixth debut of the night was then handed to Graeme Shinnie on the 75th minute, replacing the impressive McGeouch. He was called into action immediately to block a powerful Peruvian drive from the edge of the area.
The closing stages of the match began to peter out into a classic friendly affair, with the Peruvians making a raft of substitutions and Scotland handing a seventh debut of the evening to Motherwell’s Chris Cadden.
With the Peruvian fans in party mode as the match wrapped up, Scotland’s inexperienced side could console themselves in the knowledge that they had matched the 11th-ranked team in the world for large periods of the match and were only undone by two unfortunate goals.
Scotland now travel to Mexico City, where they will face off against Mexico at 1am on Sunday, 3 June, before the UEFA Nations League begins in September.
Scotland: Archer, O'Donnell, Mulgrew, McKenna, Stevenson, McTominay, McGeouch (Shinnie, 76), McGinn (Paterson, 62), McLean (Cadden, 87), Murphy (McBurnie, 62), Phillips (Morgan, 72).
Unused substitutes: McLaughlin, Bain, Hendry, Christie, Russell
Peru: Carvallo, Advíncula (Corzo, 85), Santamaría, Ramos, Trauco, Tapia (Cartagena, 83), Yotún, Flores, Carrillo (Polo, 67), Farfán (Hurtado, 79), Cueva
Unused substitutes: Gallese, Rodríguez, Araujo, Ruidíaz, Cáceda, Peña, Loyola, Aquino, Abram