Scotland Under-21s boss Billy Stark praises two-goal Ryan Gauld

Scotland Under-21s manager Billy Stark
Scotland Under-21s manager Billy Stark saw his side end the qualifying campaign with a win

Scotland Under-21s boss Billy Stark hailed the impact of Sporting Lisbon youngster Ryan Gauld after he netted a double against Luxembourg.

Gauld scored either side of a Lewis Macleod goal as Scotland ended their unsuccessful European Championship qualifying campaign with a win.

"When you have a player of Gauld's quality it can make the difference," Stark said.

"They can provide that moment that makes the game easier for you."

Stark likened the influence of 18-year-old Gauld to that of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sidelined as his Portugal side slumped to a shock 1-0 home defeat to Albania in Euro 2016 qualifying.

"We've seen that with even the top teams," Stark added. "Look at Portugal on Sunday without Ronaldo.

"It hurts you when they're not there."

Lewis Macleod, centre, takes the plaudits from Ryan Jack, left, and Ryan Fraser after making it 2-0
Lewis Macleod, centre, takes the plaudits from Ryan Jack, left, and Ryan Fraser after making it 2-0

Gauld, who joined Portuguese giants Sporting in a £3m summer move from Dundee United, hit the opener after 31 minutes in Luxembourg before Rangers midfielder Macleod made it 2-0 before the break.

The Sporting kid then added another just after the hour mark.

Scotland's hopes of qualifying ended with a 1-1 draw in Slovakia on Friday, but Stark remains upbeat about the future.

"The second goal was a terrific build-up and finish for Lewis, who was excellent too," he added.

"Double-headers are difficult. The Slovakia game took a lot out of us so there's always that temptation to freshen things up, but we decided to stick with the ones we played the other night.

"We should have done better with finishes but that was down to tired legs.

"I'm heartened by the display and the way they went about things for the next campaign."

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