Two-goal hero Lyndon Dykes adds: “We wanted to prove everyone wrong and show we could have done better [against Ukraine in June]. This is going to give us massive confidence. We’ve got one to give to Ireland as well because that last game wasn’t up to the standard. We have to make sure we get three points.” A rallying cry, right there. Also a few words for Stephen Kenny to stick up on the dressing room wall in lieu of a team-talk come Saturday. It’s going to be a big one!
Steve Clarke will be along soon to deliver his verdict to Premier Sports, no doubt. So stick around for that. In the meantime, Ewan Murray’s report has landed, so get stuck in!
Stand-in Scotland captain John McGinn speaks to Premier Sports. “We needed it. The summer hurt us badly, and tonight we needed to get back to what we do well: be horrible to play against, graft, show desire, and tonight we worked and worked. Ukraine are a really good team, we proved that in the summer, but we got our goals at good times and it’s a huge win for us. We know we’re a good team and underperformed in the summer. We can make as many excuses as we want, but we didn’t turn up and we owed the manager a performance, the supporters a performance, and most importantly ourselves a performance. The second half was as good as we’ve played in a long time. Hopefully I’m back on the goal trail for both country and my club [Aston Villa] as well. We didn’t turn up in Dublin so we need to make sure we turn up in Glasgow on Saturday night. We’re a top team and it’s about time we started to show it. Thankfully we did tonight.”
The whistle goes, and Hampden celebrates. Scotland were magnificent, especially in the second half. This scoreline doesn’t flatter them at all. Ukraine simply weren’t allowed to play, a little bit of revenge taken for the World Cup qualifying defeat in June. Scotland go top of Group B1, and next up are the Republic of Ireland on Saturday. That’ll be a big one.
90 min +2: The ball drops to McGinn on the edge of the D. His eyes light up. Volley time! Sadly he slices it woefully. If you’re going to do that, do it when you’re three up with 60 seconds to play.
90 min +1: Malinovskyi is booked for a frustrated clatter into McTominay.
90 min: There will be three additional minutes. The Tartan Army getting stuck into the olés now.
89 min: Flower of Scotland getting a good airing right now. “Given the Bondar villain’s shenanigans earlier, it’s only fitting that Scotland’s opening goal was scored by their number 007.” The name’s Oh. Peter Oh.
88 min: Another corner out on the left. Can Fraser and Dykes combine for an eight-minute triptych? Not quite. Trubin punches clear. Fraser picks up the clearance and cuts in from the left before fizzing a low shot wide left.
Another corner out on the left. Fraser and Dykes repeat the trick. It’s almost a carbon copy of Scotland’s second. Dykes hangs high to outjump Ihnatenko and plants another into the bottom right. Almost in slow motion! This scoreline doesn’t flatter Scotland at all.
85 min: Christie and Tierney are replaced by McLean and Taylor.
84 min: Pikhalonok and Mudryk – so quiet after briefly shining during the opening exchanges – are replaced by Ihnatenko and Zubkov.
82 min: Ukraine try to respond but there’s nothing in the tank. Sydorchuk is booked for dragging back Dykes, spinning near the centre circle.
Fraser swings the corner towards Dykes, on the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. He rises miles above Malinovskyi and plants a header into the bottom right. The substitutes waste no time in combining to double Scotland’s lead!
79 min: Christie’s presence out on the left forces Karavaev into the concession of another corner. And from that …
78 min: Ukraine once again fail to clear their lines properly, allowing Tierney to line up a shot from the edge of the D. He sends a bumper towards the bottom left. It’s not the best strike, but the unsighted Trubin can only react late, and turns around for a corner. Nothing comes of that, but Scotland are well on top here. Can they see it out? Can they add a second? Anything is possible.
77 min: Armstrong and Adams make way for Fraser and Dykes. Both departing players will wonder how on earth they aren’t on the scoresheet. They’ve had their chances, come very close, and played extremely well.
76 min: Ukraine can’t deal with the Scottish press at all. They’re struggling to get out of their final third. Adams can’t quite get a shot away when just inside the box on the left; then McGinn takes a speculative shot from distance that’s deflected out for a corner on the left. The set piece is played back up the wing for Armstrong, who crosses long for McKenna. The defender heads harmlessly over from six yards.
74 min: Bondar is still getting pelters. Of course he is. Marvellous fun, and we’re still three months away from pantomime season.
72 min: During the celebrations, Yaremchuk is booked for suggesting McGinn fouled Bondar as he turned to score. Some irony there, given Bondar should have been red-carded just before the break.
This has been coming, and it’s richly deserved! Adams tries to steer home Christie’s low left-wing cross. Blocked. The ball breaks to Tierney, who rolls down the inside-left channel towards McGinn, just inside the box. He holds off his man, turns, and sends a forensic strike into the bottom right! Hampden erupts!
68 min: Adams bustles down the inside-left channel, exchanging passes with McGinn before pulling back from the byline for Armstrong … and how many chances does Armstrong need? He meets the ball six yards out, but sends a woeful header wide right of the target when he really should have scored. Armstrong has been excellent on the whole, but that’s four very good chances to score now. A strange personal performance.
67 min: Ukraine make a double change. Artem Dovbyk and captain Andriy Yarmolenko make way for Roman Yaremchuk and Viktor Tsygankov.
66 min: Despite all the excitement, the home fans aren’t forgetting to boo Bondar whenever the body-slammin’ defender touches the ball. Admirable grudge-holding.
65 min: Ukraine respond through Mykhaylichenko, who drives towards the Scotland box down the inside-left channel … only to be relieved of possession by the excellent Hickey. The hosts clear their lines.
63 min: From the corner, Adams nearly scores on two separate occasions, both from McGinn’s right-wing loopers. First up, Adams heads towards the top left. With Trubin beaten all ends up, the ball twangs off the underside of the bar and away. Then, as Scotland recycle possession, he heads the second cross down. Trubin hacks away with his feet. So close, and Hampden is bubbling now!
62 min: Hickey slips a glorious ball down the right flank for Armstrong, who enters the box and could shoot – possibly should shoot – but perhaps still thinking about that miss a couple of minutes ago, cuts back … to nobody in particular. But the ball pinballs back towards Hickey, who drives towards the bottom right. The shot is deflected inches wide of goal. Corner.
60 min: McGinn takes down a high ball to the left of the Ukraine D. He spins and shoots. It’s blocked. Scotland come again, Armstrong cutting in from the right and one-twoing with McTominay, whose lovely backflick sends his team-mate into space in the box. Armstrong leans back and converts for some rugby points. What a miss. In a parallel universe somewhere, Armstrong has bagged the match ball already.
58 min: Scotland press and Ukraine ship possession. Tierney strides into the box from the left and cuts back for Armstrong, who slaps his shot straight at Trubin. The Saints midfielder has had his chances this evening.
56 min: McGinn plays a cute pass around the corner to send Tierney off down the left. His dangerous cross is cleared with Adams lurking, and Ukraine break. Yarmolenko slips a pass down the centre for Dovbyk, who for a second looks like tearing clear, only to be denied by a superb last-ditch slide by Hendry. The flag eventually goes up for offside, but take nothing away from that brilliantly timed tackle.
54 min: Scotland press Ukraine back again … and once more fail to pick any sort of final pass that would trouble their opponents. They’ve been decent up until the final third. A fairly big caveat, but there we are.
52 min: Gordon races out of his area to blooter clear under pressure from Yarmolenko, who is tearing down the middle. Mudryk, out on the Ukraine left, tries to return it goalwards from distance. The net is unguarded, but the ball bounces harmlessly miles wide right. Hearts in Scottish mouths for a split second there.
51 min: Tierney flings in a long throw from the left. Armstrong tries to win a header in the box but times his jump all wrong and it’s an easy claim for Trubin.
50 min: All a bit cagey for now.
48 min: A nice touch and turn from Hickey, put under pressure by Gordon’s pass, gets Scotland out of trouble. He’s looked sharp since coming on for Patterson, having also crucially diverted the ball away from the in-flight Mudryk towards the end of the first half.
46 min: Ukraine stroke it around the back. Plenty of pantomime pelters for Valeriy Bondar every time he touches the ball. Expect that to be the soundtrack of the second half. The Tartan Army are fuming.
Ukraine get the second half underway. They’ve replaced Taras Stepanenko with Serhiy Sydorchuk.
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All square at the break, though Ukraine should be down to ten men.
45 min +2: After a couple of minutes, Adams is back up and running. Nothing comes of the resulting free kick. Scotland are fuming, with Steve Clarke giving the fourth official the benefit of his advice.
45 min: Adams steals the ball off Matviyenko in the middle of the park and knocks it past Bondar. As he starts chasing after it at full pelt, he’s crudely bodychecked, arm and shoulder under chin, at huge force by Bondar. It’s just a yellow, which is ridiculous, even if the defender wasn’t the last man. That was unbelievably cynical, and overly aggressive to boot. It should have been a red.
44 min: Armstrong, Adams and Christie get in each other’s way on the edge of the Ukraine box. The visitors don’t need to defend the situation, as the hosts, bunched too close together, effectively nix themselves.
43 min: McTominay, just to the right of the D, slides a diagonal pass into the road of Christie, entering the box down the inside-left channel. Christie lets the ball roll under his foot, and another good Scotland move breaks down in the final third.
41 min: Scotland pin Ukraine back without ever looking like seriously threatening the goal. Some nice possession, but when Adams has half a chance to spin and shoot, he fails to control and the chance goes begging.
39 min: Mudryk hits a low shot-cum-cross from a tight spot on the left. Gordon uses both fists to bash clear in the no-nonsense style. That might be Ukraine’s first shot on target, or nearly on target at the very least.
38 min: McTominay intercepts and slips infield to McGinn, just to the right of the Ukraine D. He attempts a Le Tissieresque flick, swivel and volley, but the erstwhile Southampton man made that sort of thing look much easier than it is. Goal kick.