UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier
Scotland 6 San Marino 0
Sunday, 13 October 2019, kick-off 5.00pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Scorers: McGinn (12, 27, 45), Shankland (65), Findlay (67), Armstrong (87)
A stunning first half hat-trick for John McGinn inspired a return to winning ways for Scotland with a morale boosting demolition of San Marino at a rain lashed Hampden.
Steve Clarke had called for his team to learn lessons from previous matches and, whilst there were no serious tests in this game, his side responded with a commanding performance to arrest a run of four defeats, and give the manager and his players a lift ahead of the final qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan.
Scotland made six changes to the side beaten in Moscow on Thursday as Clarke looked to add some international experience to the group. Mikey Devlin kept his place in defence with Kilmarnock’s Stuart Findlay handed his debut alongside him. A first start beckoned for striker Lawrence Shankland, and just a second cap for Sunderland keeper Jon McLaughlin. Scott McTominay returned after serving a suspension with Ryan Christie also coming back into the starting line-up.
Scotland controlled the game from the first whistle, and San Marino struggled to cope with James Forrest’s directness down the left in the opening minutes. Shankland must have been convinced he had bagged his first international goal when he got on the end of the Celtic winger’s cross, only to be denied by an unbelievable save from Aldo Simoncini in the San Marino goal.
But the visitors couldn’t hold out for long, and McGinn’s second international goal got things started for Scotland in the twelfth minute as the midfielder stole the faintest of touches on Christie’s curling effort to steer past Simoncini.
The Aston Villa man added his and Scotland’s second when Simoncini pushed McTominay’s cross straight to his feet, and he calmly stroked the ball home. And McGinn got himself onto the end of Stuart Findlay’s header across the box to smash in his third during first half stoppage time.
The second half fell victim to the elements as the torrential and relentless Glasgow rain began to gather on the playing surface.
But Scotland’s new boys were determined not to let the weather dampen the occasion of their first international starts. First, Dundee United’s Shankland got his name on the scoresheet when he knocked home from six yards after McTominay’s effort had cannoned back off the woodwork and held up on the sodden surface.
Then, just two minutes later, Findlay – who tormented the San Marino defenders at every one of Scotland’s eighteen corners - rose to power a header past Simoncini from Christie’s set piece delivery.
Substitute Stuart Armstrong was always going to have a hard task stealing the spotlight from the man he replaced – McGinn – but he added a late sixth goal with a sublime free kick from twenty yards.
It was a win that was no less than Scotland deserved for their efforts, with impressive performances all over the pitch that will surely inspire confidence going into the matches against Cyprus away and Kazakhstan at home next month – victories in both of which will guarantee third place in group I.
BT Man of the Match: John McGinn
Scotland: McLaughlin; Palmer, Devlin, Findlay, Robertson (capt); McGinn (Armstrong, 67), McTominay, McGregor (Russell, 67); Forrest, Shankland, Christie
Substitutes not used: Marshall, Mulgrew, Fraser, Gallagher, Morgan, MacGillivray, O’Donnell, Taylor
San Marino: Simoncini; Battistini, Censoni, Brolli, D’Addario (Grandoni, 45), Mularoni, Golinucci, Gasperoni, Berardi (Ceccaroli, 80), Giardi (Hirsch, 45), Nanni
Substitutes not used: Zavoli, Della Valle, Palazzi, Lunadei, Bernardi, Benedettini, Golinucci, Tomassini