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The end justifies the means for contented coach

Billy Stark insisted that Scotland had achieved their main aim by securing a 2-1 victory in Luxembourg, but admitted disappointment over their failure to maintain control after the break.

Jordan Rhodes' two goals proved the difference
Jordan Rhodes' two goals proved the difference

The Scots had appeared comfortable at half-time after Jordan Rhodes' double earned them a deserved 2-0 lead but Stark felt that Lars Gerson's free-kick goal 90 seconds after the restart changed the complexion of the game. The visitors survived some nervy moments and struggled to break their hosts down but Stark was pleased to deliver a win following nine call-offs.

"We won and that's the most important thing," said the Scotland Under-21 coach. "When we approached the game we felt we needed to win the game. On the back of that you hope we would have a scintillating performance.

"We would concede it wasn't quite that but the first half we were comfortable and we created some chances. We felt at half-time the game could go two ways, we can begin authoritatively and not give Luxembourg encouragement and build on the position we were in but unfortunately we lost a goal from a free-kick. You have to sometimes credit the opposition, Luxembourg got great encouragement from that and defended resolutely but also used the full pitch and made life difficult for us.

"You wouldn't say we were absolutely sure we wouldn't lose a goal because they had some big players and we had to defend some free-kicks, one or two of which were pretty debatable, especially the one the goal came off. We are a wee bit disappointed we weren't able to build on the lead."

Charlie Mulgrew dominated central midfield in the first half but Stark had to replace the Celtic man at half-time, with Liam Kelly coming on for his debut. And Stark's 4-4-2 formation, with Kenny Miller partnering Rhodes, began to look like a 4-2-4 as Scotland failed to control the middle of the park after the interval.

Stark said: "I don't think anyone would say we didn't deserve to win but the second half was sticky. We were in a position where we had to defend, we had a lot of forward players on there that worked hard to do that defensive work but then weren't able to give us the same cutting edge."

Stark admitted that the performance of Rhodes, who now has three goals from three starts, was the main positive. "We've seen we've got a guy who can score at every level," Stark said. "It was a bit disappointing not to get the hat-trick but he'll be grateful for the two goals."

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