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Scotland 3-0 Cyprus: John McGinn and Scott McTominay secure victory in Euro 2024 qualifier

Match report as Scotland kick off Euro 2024 qualifying with a 3-0 victory over Cyprus; John McGinn fired Scotland ahead in the 21st minute; Scott McTominay secured the win with a late double; Steve Clarke's side host Spain in their next qualifier on Tuesday night

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 25: Scotland's John McGinn celebrates with Andy Robertson after scoring to make it 1-0 during a UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier between Scotland and Cyprus at Hampden Park, on March 25, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Image: John McGinn fired in Scotland's opener against Cyprus

Scotland's bid to qualify for Euro 2024 got off to a winning start as a John McGinn strike and Scott McTominay's late double earned them a 3-0 win over Cyprus at Hampden Park.

Aston Villa midfielder McGinn fired in from Andrew Robertson's deflected cross in the first half for his 16th goal for the national side.

McTominay, who had a shot blocked minutes after coming off the bench, smashed the ball into the roof of the net late on to secure the victory in the Group A opener.

The Manchester United man then added another goal in injury-time to wrap up a comfortable afternoon against the visitors, who managed just one shot on target.

Scotland ease to victory in Hampden opener

Steve Clarke signed a deal to remain as Scotland head coach until 2026
Image: Steve Clarke has signed a deal to remain as Scotland head coach until 2026

Steve Clarke handed Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn his Scotland debut against Cyprus after beating off competition from Hearts' Zander Clark and Motherwell's Liam Kelly.

Recent Watford recruit Ryan Porteous, who broke into the team in the autumn, continued on the right of a three-man defence alongside Grant Hanley and Kieran Tierney.

Rangers' Ryan Jack started in midfield alongside Celtic's Callum McGregor, while Stuart Armstrong got the nod over Ryan Christie to play in support of his Southampton team-mate Che Adams in attack.

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Angus Gunn made his Scotland debut against Cyprus
Image: Angus Gunn made his Scotland debut against Cyprus

Scotland started brightly and McGinn saw his low shot go inches wide of the far post after just nine minutes.

Aaron Hickey was next to threaten with his powerful shot turned past the post by Cyprus goalkeeper Demetris Demetriou.

Cyprus enjoyed a brief spell of possession and Gunn was called into action for the first time after 17 minutes to easily gather Grigoris Kastanos' low shot.

Scotland then took the lead two minutes later when McGinn pounced to side-foot Robertson's deflected cross into the net.

Scotland's John McGinn celebrates his opening goal against Cyprus
Image: McGinn celebrates his goal

After a lengthy VAR check the Tartan Army burst into a rendition of 'We've got super John McGinn' and the qualifying campaign burst into life.

With the visitors trying to find an equaliser, captain Kostakis Artymatas attempted an ambitious volley from 35 yards. The outcome was predictable as it sailed high over the bar.

There were gasps from the stands as Gunn slipped as he tried to collect a simple pass, but he managed to recover to avoid a nightmare on his debut.

Player ratings

Scotland: Gunn (6), Tierney (7), Hanley (7), Porteous (6), Robertson (7), Jack (5), McGregor (6), Hickey (6), McGinn (7), Armstrong (7), Adams (6)

Subs: Dykes (7), McTominay (8), Christie (7), Patterson (6)

Scotland continued to pile on more pressure and Adams' powerful shot was pushed over the bar with half-time approaching.

The hosts remained in command after the break but were limited in their creativity in front of goal.

Striker Lyndon Dykes came on to replace Adams just before the hour mark after the Southampton forward suffered a leg injury which has ruled him out of the visit of Spain on Tuesday.

Shankland added for Spain trip

Scotland have added Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland to their squad to face Spain on Tuesday.

Shankland has 21 goals in all competitions this season and comes in to the squad with Che Adams making way ater injuring his calf in the win over Cyprus.

The Scottish Football Association also said Anthony Ralston had withdrawn from Steve Clarke's squad ahead of the Euro 2024 qualifier on Tuesday.

Scotland then went agonisingly close to a second when Armstrong released Robertson on the left, but his cross was just inches ahead of Hickey.

Armstrong saw his powerful strike stopped by Demetriou before Clarke replaced him and Jack with McTominay and Ryan Christie.

Both substitutes then had shots blocked in quick succession as Scotland continued to push for a second.

Cyprus' first shot on goal came in the 85th minute but Gunn was waiting to save the effort from substitute Andronikos Kakoullis.

Scott McTominay scored a late double
Image: Scott McTominay scored a late double for Scotland

Scotland eventually took their chance as McTominay collected the ball from Dykes and smashed it into the roof of the net to secure the victory before adding a third goal deep into added time.

Cyprus were reduced to 10 men in the dying seconds of the match when Nicholas Ioannou picked up a second booking.

Clarke looking for 'perfect performance'

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Scotland head coach Steve Clarke was delighted to start Euro 2024 qualification with victory over Cyprus, but he is looking for an improved performance against Spain in their next match

Scotland manager Steve Clarke was delighted with victory in their group opener, but is looking for improvement against Spain on Tuesday night:

"It's a better start than we've had in the European Championships for a hell of a long time.

"It is obviously very important against the teams that are seeded less than you are to pick up maximum points, certainly at home.

"I thought Cyprus were good, they were organised, but we managed to contain them and there wasn't too much threat on our goal.

"It's a good start, a really good start to the group, and now we have to try and back it up on Tuesday night against the Spanish.

"We always want to improve. It's very rare you get the perfect performance, but that's what you have to look for.

"Having said that, if you don't get the perfect performance on Tuesday night but you get the win you come away happy.

"I keep saying to the players we've improved a lot, but to improve the next bit which will make us one of the better teams in Europe and make us a consistent pot-two team is difficult.

"You have to eliminate those slack moments in the game that allow the opposition to think they've got a chance."

'Clarke will be delighted to get the three points'

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Kris Boyd believes Scotland beating Cyprus in their European Championship qualifier was the most important task of their entire campaign

Sky Sports' Kris Boyd on Soccer Saturday:

"Steve Clarke will be absolutely delighted to get the three points and get off to a flyer in the group, and with Spain coming to Hampden on Tuesday night it is going to be a difficult game, but this was the most important one for Scotland.

"They had to take care of Cyprus, they did that, it is three points and a good start for the campaign. But Clarke will know there will need to be improvements."

What's next?

Scotland have another Euro 2024 qualifier at Hampden Park on Tuesday against Spain. Kick-off 7.45pm.

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