Evening Express

Scotland 2 Albania 0 – talking points

Scotland's players celebrate the deflected opener against Albania.

Scotland beat Albania 2-0 in their UEFA Nations League opener at Hampden last night.

The Dark Blues were dominant and, save for a couple of scares, always looked likely to win.

Striker Steven Naismith scored the second and would have been awarded the first too, save for a deflection off of defender Berat Djimsiti.

Boss Alex McLeish, without a win in the last three games against top side like Mexico and Belgium, needed a victory and is decision to change shape to go with two up top – with neither slot filled by Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths – raised a few eyebrows.

However, the manager’s selection was vindicated.

Here’s what we learned:


Scotland are capable of intricate attacking play through players like Callum McGregor, John McGinn, Stuart Armstrong and Andy Robertson, but often made it too complicated in the first half, albeit before Armstrong entered the fray. They showed in the second half, with a bit more killer instinct, they could score a lot of goals.

Two up top

Steven Naismith, who came close to heading a double, and strike partner Johnny Russell were lively from the start at Hampden.
Without the ball, their pressing was ferocious, and when Scotland had it they were stretching the Albanian defence effectively. Perhaps the way forward for boss McLeish shape-wise.

Crowd missing

It was a good night inside the national stadium for those who were there – but there still weren’t enough of them, with just 17,455 fans in attendance.
If the SFA are, as reported, buying Hampden from Queen’s Park and
staying at Mount Florida, they need to work out how to get more bums on seats to watch Scotland. More than £30 a ticket is too much.


Ryan Fraser and Graeme Shinnie didn’t add to their combined seven Scotland caps against Albania.
Fraser, of Premier League Bournemouth, was a surprise omission from the squad after picking up a knock, while Reds skipper Shinnie was left on the bench after coming on in the friendly against Belgium.