Evening Express

Aberdeen’s Shinnie still proud of earning Hampden cap despite Scotland’s heavy defeat to Belgium

Scotland's Graeme Shinnie challenges Belgium's Yourie Tielemans

Graeme Shinnie said coming on for Scotland in a 4-0 friendly defeat to Belgium was still “a dream come true”.

The Aberdeen captain earned his third cap as a 73rd-minute substitute for Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn.

Alex McLeish’s Dark Blues were beaten comfortably by the World Cup bronze medallists, with goals coming from stars Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi (2).

Scotland were architects of their own downfall during the match, which was their last before their first competitive game in McLeish’s second spell as boss – the UEFA Nations League opener with Albania on Monday.

Despite the disappointment of the loss and the need for quick improvements in the next few days, Shinnie was honoured to have played for his country once again.

The Aberdonian said: “To get on at Hampden, my family was there watching, so that’s a bit of a dream come true for me.

“It’s another cap and I’m keen to try to tot up as many as I can. So, in terms of selfishness, it’s good that I’ve played a part again – but a difficult result.”

The match was Scotland’s worst loss at home for 45 years.

After a good opening spell, where they showed they could play good passing football, while limiting the Belgians – who had multiple Premier League players in their ranks – the Dark Blues conceded a cheap goal.

Craig Gordon’s roll out down the middle to McGinn saw the midfielder robbed by Mousa Dembele and Lukaku scored.

The game changed at this point with Belgium having most of the ball and several chances.

After half-time this told.

Hazard fired home almost immediately after the break, and further mistakes from Charlie Mulgrew and ex-Dons captain Ryan Jack allowed Batshuayi to add two more.

Shinnie, who won his first two caps against Peru and Mexico in the summer, said: “It was always going to be a tough game against a team like Belgium.

“We conceded maybe cheap goals which is disappointing for us.

“But it’s a good experience for us and we now need to move on to Monday.

“In terms of teams, Mexico when I was away in the summer was a tough game, but Belgium, with the players they’ve got, they’re probably the toughest opponents I’ve came up against.”

Ahead of the Albania meeting, the start of a new competition to replace friendlies, which will give the Scots an extra opportunity to qualify for Euro 2020 and end their 20-year major tournament drought, he added: “The mistakes for the goals are obviously something we need to cut out and make it as hard as possible for opponents to score.

“In football you always want to build on a clean sheet.

“We’ve got players who can go and get goals.

“On Monday it’ll be all about trying to do that and build on a clean sheet.

“The strikers will try to get goals.”

Shinnie, Aberdeen’s midfield general, accepts there are players above him in McLeish’s midfield pecking order.

However, he’ll still be attempting to force his way into Monday’s starting 11.

He said: “I would love to (start), but I wouldn’t expect to.

“It’s a tough squad and they’ve got some top, top players and I would never expect to play here (at Hampden).

“But obviously I’d love to.

“It’s up to the manager.

“I’ll try as hard as I can in training and see what happens.”