SCOTLAND 3 CYPRUS 0
CALLUM McGREGOR celebrated his 50th cap as he strolled through Scotland’s well-merited triumph over Cyprus this afternoon.
The Celtic captain continued his excellent club form for his country as Steve Clarke’s men picked up three points in their Euro 24 opener at Hampden.
Substitute Scott McTominay claimed two late goals as the Scots cleared the first hurdle.
The breakthrough strike arrived in the 21st minute was superbly constructed and exquisitely executed by John McGinn.
TREBLE YELL…Scott McTominay and Lyndon Dykes celebrate Scotland’s three-goal win and three points against Cyprus at Hampden.
Ex-Hoops stars Kieran Tierney and Stuart Armstrong combined on the left with the Southampton playmaker stroking a defence-shredding pass inside St Mirren’s Alex Gogic to the galloping Andy Robertson.
The international skipper whipped over an inviting cross to the back post where the Aston Villa midfielder arrived smack on the money to first-time a close-range drive past the stranded Jason Demetriou.
There was a two-minute delay as the strike was checked by VAR and the national stadium erupted when it was correctly awarded and referee Duje Strukan pointed to the centre circle.
It was McGinn’s 16th goal for the Scots – and all of them have come under the regime of Clarke who has just extended his international contract to 2026.
Just before the interval, the Cypriot keeper denied the hosts a second goal as he reacted instinctively to push a shot from Che Adams over the crossbar after the striker had been set up by McGinn.
In the 57th minute, Adams limped off after a heavy challenge from Gogic and Queens Park Rangers’ Lyndon Dykes came on in his place.
Eleven minutes later, Ryan Christie and McTominay were introduced for Armstrong and Jack.
Amazingly, within moments, both subs had chances to double the Scots’ advantage, but their shots were blocked in quickfire fashion.
Everton’s Nathan Patterson then got the nod to come on for the limping Aaron Hickey in the 80th minute.
THE OLD ONE-TWO…Scott McTominay hits the deck as his close-range drive thunders into the roof of the net and (below) the Scotland midfielder curls in his second and Scotland’s third against the Cypriots.
Seven minutes later, McTominay hit the second goal after magnificent work on the right by Christie who won a tackle before delivering a fabulous ball into the box.
Dykes headed down to the Manchester United midfielder who took a touch before thumping an effort into the roof of the net.
Three minutes into stoppage-time, McTominay latched onto a pass from Robertson to place No.3 in the net.
It all ended badly for Nicholas Ioanou who stupidly kicked the ball away to earn a second booking with only moments left on the clock.
All eyes are now on the national stadium on Tuesday when McGregor and Co face up to Spain at the second Euro hurdle.
TEAM: Gunn; Hickey (sub: Patterson 80), Porteous, Hanley, Robertson; McGinn, McGregor, Jack (sub: McTominay 68), Armstrong (sub: 68), Tierney; Adams (sub: Dykes 57).