CELTIC were to the four as Alex McLeish enjoyed his first victory in his comeback as Scotland manager in Budapest this evening.

Big Eck started with Jack Hendry, Callum McGregor, Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest – as CQN predicted on Saturday following Friday night’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica.

There was a better tempo to the game than the lacklustre encounter against the Central Americans at Hampden.

Matt Phillips spared the blushes of new Scots skipper Charlie Mulgrew with the only goal in the 48th minute.

The former Celtic defender, now with League One outfit Blackburn Rovers, squandered the perfect opportunity to give his country the lead five minutes from the interval.

The lively Ryan Fraser was bundled to the ground  and the Austrian referee deemed the offence had taken place inside the box.

Mulgrew, who was named captain in place of Scott Brown last week, stepped forward to lash the ball to keeper Peter Gulacsi’s left-hand side.

Unfortunately, for the central defender, the shotstopper dived athletically to push the effort to safety.

SPOT OFF…Charlie Mulgrew sees his penalty-kick saved by sprawling Hungarian
keeper Peter Gulacsi.

But Phillips, with his first goal for Scotland, made certain of victory to give McLeish some breathing space after some adverse reaction to the defeat from Costa Rica where he introduced four new caps at the start and the team never clicked.

It was a neat, swift and deadly move that split open the Hungarian back lot to present the opening for the killer goal.

Phillips started it with a pass inside to Forrest who switched it wide right to Fraser.

The Bournemouth winger fired in an inviting cross and the West Brom raider reacted with lightning reflexes as he first-timed a left-foot drive beyond the helpless keeper.

THE WINNER…Matt Phillips turns the ball wide of the keeper for the only goal.

Allan McGregor looked assured in the Scotland goal and made three excellent stops, one, in particular, from a dipping, swerving 25-yarder from Roman Varga that he managed to tip over the bar.

The Hoops contingent did well and Hendry didn’t put a foot wrong in his international debut in a back three alongside Mulgrew and Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna.

The midfield three of Armstrong, McGregor and Hibs’ John McGinn controlled the first-half and must have had McLeish purring with delight.

Forrest had a couple of chances in the opening half, but slashed one wide and was tame with another that was straight at Gulacsi.

Now it’s back to club duty against Ross County on Saturday for the international foursome who were impressive throughout the evening.

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