SCOTLAND eventually shook off San Marino to claim the first points of their Euro 2020 qualification campaign, but it was another uninspiring showing from Alex McLeish's men.

Here are five talking points from the game in Rimini...


It is never a good sign for a manager if his team are getting booed off at half-time when they are a goal to the good, but that is what happened here as the Scots toiled to shake off the world’s worst international team.

Colourful choruses of ‘F*** the SFA’ and ‘We’re s**** and we know we are’ followed during a turgid second-half, leaving the watching delegation from the association in no doubt who they held responsible for the current dire state of the national side.

It was a grim watch after such a promising start through Kenny McLean’s goal, and the fact that the destination of the points was even in doubt during the latter stages of the match before Johnny Russell’s settler was a damning indictment on this Scotland side.

Assistant coach James McFadden said in the lead-up to the game that even a 10-0 win wouldn’t be enough for some people, but the less than convincing display that materialised did little to lift spirits or alleviate the pressure on manager Alex McLeish.


READ MORE: The Bulletin: Alex McLeish pleads with booing fans to stick by Scotland | Kenny McLean admits fans were right to boo


The gameplan for Scotland seemed to be to pass their lowly opponents into submission, working the ball wide to throw in cross after cross, but with just one striker to aim for and little support arriving in the box all too often, the majority of the balls that came in - chiefly from Fraser and Robertson on the left - were dealt with comfortably enough by the home defence.

It all made for a painful watch as the Scots huffed and puffed to create opportunities against their part-time opponents, and the second goal was a relief more than anything when it eventually arrived.

There was perhaps apprehension after the bruising result in Nursultan, but it was debatable whether Scotland really needed four at the back along with two sitting midfielders against such lowly opposition.

From game to game it is difficult to put your finger on what the identity of McLeish’s Scotland side is, or even who his best 11 are, and that is a concern over a year since his appointment.


Callum Paterson started this match as a makeshift number nine, a role he has played for Cardiff City this season more than adequately when required. He was isolated here until injury forced him off midway through the first half, with on-loan Hibs forward Marc McNulty given his chance to shine.

The Reading man put himself about and ran the channels willingly, but he didn’t exactly nail down the role as his own after fluffing his lines when presented with some good opportunities. One of those in particular, a header wide after a clipped cross from substitute James Forrest, was a shocker, and Scotland boss McLeish must be desperate for Leigh Griffiths to make his comeback to competitive action sooner rather than later.HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Flights and flak all worth it for intrepid traveller Johnny Russell as he bags his first Scotland goal


There is a frequently quoted stat about only Eden Hazard providing more assists than Fraser so far this season in the English Premiership, and it was no surprise that the Bournemouth winger was the man to unlock the massed ranks of the San Marino defence here.

His cross allowed McLean to open the scoring in the opening minutes, and we all settled back to watch the deluge arrive. It never quite worked out that way, with Fraser seeing a lot of the ball but being uncharacteristically wayward with many of his deliveries.

Still, he has a bit of class about him and his link-up with Andy Robertson down the left will be a major factor if Scotland are to eventually do anything in this group.


The Southampton midfielder’s forceful running from midfield has been one of the rare bright spots of an arduous few days for Scotland supporters, with his willingness to not only get beyond the ball when his teammates are in possession but also to carry it past defenders proving one of the few features of the team’s attacking play that wasn’t comfortably dealt with by their opponents in either match this week.

He has been a central figure in most of the positives that can be derived from this double-header, and he will be a pivotal man for Scotland moving forward.