ALEX McLEISH singled out James Forrest for praise as the Celtic winger scored his first goals for Scotland in the 4-0 UEFA Nations League victory in Albania last night.
The international boss acclaimed the on-fire Hoops winger who cemented the three points with two fabulous left-foot finishes in Shkoder, as CQN reported in our match report.
McLeish said: “James has been there or thereabouts in the last couple of years for Scotland. And, of course, he has been scoring goals.
“He’s been in great form for his club and he continued that scoring vein which was marvellous to see. They were two really well-executed goals.”
Forrest flashed in his first – the Scots’ third – in the 55th minute as he raced onto an exquisite through pass from the impressive Ryan Christie and finished with a flourish from 16 yards.
He thundered in No.4 12 minutes later when he flicked up a left-wing cross from Ryan Fraser and volleyed an unstoppable effort into the net from 10 yards.
McLeish also hailed the display from Bournemouth wide-man Fraser who also claimed his debut goal for the Scots, the 14th-minute opener that set the pattern for the remainder of the tie.
He said: “We’ve hardly had Ryan and we’ve always said that when we get players of that calibre into the team then it’s going to make us better.
“He started off like a house on fire, was very dangerous and it was a great finish.”
The international gaffer also urged the Tartan Army to rally round Scotland as they prepare for Tuesday evening’s crunch tie against Israel at Hampden.
TWO-GOAL HERO…James Forrest claimed his first strikes for Scotland in Albania.
A win against the Israelis will secure a play-off spot for the 2020 European Championship and McLeish is looking for a massive crowd at the national stadium to roar on his players.
He said: “We always try to win, so we have set ourselves up, as have Israel, and it should be a good game.
“We are at home, so let’s hope there is a response from the Tartan Army. We’d like the supporters to come to cheer the guys to victory.
“If we play to that level again then we have a good chance.”
Comeback striker Steven Fletcher claimed Scotland’s other goal against Albania when he swept in a penalty-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Spare a thought, too, for Christie who was the victim of a crude headbutt for the SECOND time in only seven days.
Following last week’s assault from Livingston’s Dolly Menga, this time the home skipper, Mergim Mavraj, was the villain after losing the plot in the 22nd minute.
The defender hauled down Forrest with a wayward tackle that was about to earn him a booking from Russian match official Vladislav Bezborodov.
Inexplicably, Mavraj then stuck the head on Christie and was immediately red-carded by the referee.
Thankfully, the Hoops star recovered to play the entire 90 minutes and will be okay for the champions’ trip to Hamilton Accies on Saturday.