IF there was little to get enthused about ahead of Friday's penultimate Euro qualifier against Cyprus, the 10-0 win brought some much-needed relief from the recent events which have undermined women's football in Scotland.

The rout at the AEK Arena makes not a jot of difference to the Group E outcome – Scotland will finish third in a race they were seeded to win – and nor will the domestic players have club football to look forward to when they return home late on Tuesday night. Nevertheless, eleven months into this debilitating pandemic the joy and smiles on the faces of the Scotland players provided a welcome contrast.

Interim head coach Stuart McLaren deserves credit for sending the team out in a much more positive fashion. The tempo was high from the word go, and gone – largely – were the tedious passes across the back four which were a characteristic of many recent performances.

Yes, Cyprus were dire and even when losing 8-0 to Scotland at Easter Road looked a better side. The narrow 1-0 away defeat to Portugal in October hinted at a big improvement, but there was no evidence of it on Friday.

That, however, doesn't detract from the energy of the Scotland players and their apparent resolve to put the catastrophic results of last year behind them. There was a first Scotland goal for Kirsty Hanson, while a quick double for substitute Jane Ross brought her overall total to 62.

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READ MORE: Cyprus 0-10 Scotland: Women's side destroy opponents in UEFA Euro qualifier as Erin Cuthbert shines

Perhaps the most significant statement made by McLaren, on an afternoon he can savour, was sending on Celtic midfielders Natalie Ross and Lisa Robertson at the start of the second half. Neither appeared to be remotely in Shelley Kerr's plans, and prior to that only very briefly in Anna Signeul's.

It was, admittedly, not the ideal game to assess what they might add, but both looked comfortable and can give Scotland more robust options in midfield. Ross wasn't shy to show the Cyprus players that aspect of her game, while Robertson always commands the respect of opponents.

For the latter, winning her first cap was a dream realised. She thought it was going to happen when she was on the bench against Serbia in 2013, but having been told she was going to go on near the end it was Lana Clelland who was chosen instead.

Described as the hardest worker he has ever encountered by former Hibernian head coach Chris Roberts, Robertson recalled the moment near the end of the first half in Larnaca when she finally got the nod.

“Stuart told me to warm up because I was going on after the break – and what a feeling that was,” the 28-year-old grinned. “As I went on he told me to just relax, use my energy and keep the ball.

“It was my dream to play for Scotland and to finally do it was unbelievable. Finally my hard work over so many years has got me the cap that I always wanted.

“I have had days and weeks and seasons when I thought that it was never going to happen.”

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READ MORE: Alan Campbell: All change as Scotland head to Cyprus in surreal circumstances

WHILE there was joy in Larnaca, the streets of Helsinki witnessed socially distanced dancing. Finland – just as they had done at Easter Road on December 1 – scored a goal deep in time added on to beat Portugal 1-0. The result means Anna Signeul's side have qualified for the Euro finals as group winners.

It was a stunning outcome for Scotland's former head coach, who admits being drawn in the same group as so many of the players she introduced to international football was her worst possible scenario. Finland have taken 19 points from a possible 21, including home and away wins over her old side.

In another bizarre twist, Signeul and her players will be in Cyprus at the same time as Scotland this week. Their final group game is against the home nation at – would you believe – the AEK Arena.

Across town in Larnaca, Scotland play Portugal at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium. The defeat on Friday was devastating for the Portuguese, just as it had been for Scotland at Easter Road. They need to beat the top seeds by at least nine goals on Tuesday to have any chance of reaching April's play offs.

READ MORE: Scotland v Finland: Stuart McLaren challenges fringe players

FINALLY, and some 18 months after Donald Gillies departed for the United States, there is a new Head of Girls' and Women's Football at the Scottish FA. Fiona McIntyre will move from Scottish Women's Football to take up the reins on March 15.