Czech Republic 0-1 Scotland: All about the victory for Strachan

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
Scotland coach Gordon Strachan
Gordon Strachan watched his Scotland side pick up a 1-0 win in Prague

Gordon Strachan reaffirmed a consistent stance in the immediate wake of Scotland's win against Czech Republic - the victory had been the most pleasing aspect of Thursday night for the Scotland coach.

Good individual performances, the chance to blood three new caps and give fringe players an opportunity to impress, the team's ability to alter the approach to curb the opposition's early dominance - all valid reasons to be content.

But victory, regardless of what is at stake, trumps everything, every time for Strachan.

It is, after all, all that counts. When Euro 2016 kicks off in June, two plucky Scotland defeats by Germany will be a distant memory.

But as Republic of Ireland run out to face Sweden in their opening match, their late victory in Georgia and the momentous triumph over the Germans in Dublin will still resonate.

Winning habit the goal

That is a truth acknowledged by the Scotland boss, who has known success throughout his career and dearly wants to savour it again at the helm of the national team.

He also knows that winning is a habit, one he would like his players to become accustomed to.

Scotland win in Prague
Match report: Czech Republic 0-1 Scotland
How Scotland's players rated
Strachan pleased with Scots' 'lesson'

The psychological impact of defeating a team of the Czechs' calibre through a solitary Ikechi Anya strike has to be a positive one, particularly having kept a clean sheet in the process.

The key, of course, is using the belief gained in such circumstances to ensure similar outcomes in games that really matter.

What would Strachan give for victories in Slovenia, Slovakia or England in the next campaign? If Scotland are to qualify, it's likely they will have to win in at least one of those places.

But if winning is what matters most, there were some peripheral benefits to Thursday's match too.

Old heads stand out

Allan McGregor makes a save for Scotland against Czech Republic
Allan McGregor made some fine saves against Czech Republic

The clean sheet would not have materialised were it not for an inspired performance by Allan McGregor in the Scotland goal.

Having lost his position to David Marshall for the last qualifying campaign, the Hull goalkeeper staked a significant claim for a return with some wonderful saves.

With Craig Gordon also vying for the number one jersey, Scotland's depth of goalkeeping talent has, for some time, been the envy of bigger and better countries, but if McGregor produces similar form in the remaining friendlies before World Cup qualifying begins, he would be hard to leave out.

Despite the impressive result, this was far from a vintage Scotland performance, but a couple of Strachan favourites turned in solid displays.

Alan Hutton, winning his 50th cap, looked assured defensively as well as offering an attacking threat, while Charlie Mulgrew showed his versatility as he performed tidily in central midfield before switching to left-back, where he defended stoutly.

Of the new boys, only midfielder Kenny McLean was really afforded sufficient opportunity to impress.

Interview: Kenny McLean

He did not look out of his depth, but neither did he impose himself on the game in order to make a lasting impression.

McLean's talent and continuing good form for Aberdeen suggest he will add to this debut cap, but it seems unlikely he will displace more seasoned performers such as Steven Naismith or Shaun Maloney for the upcoming campaign.

Opportunity also knocked for Ross McCormack and, though a fit Steven Fletcher will almost certainly get the nod in the lone striker role come the qualifiers, the Fulham forward's involvement in the goal suggested he could also have a part to play in the bid to reach Russia 2018.

Back to Hampden

And now it's over to an almost entirely different set of players to show what they can do against Denmark on Tuesday.

Fletcher, having pulled out of Thursday's match through illness, is one of few to have been included in both squads and should be involved at Hampden.

There could be opportunities for others - John McGinn, Oliver Burke, Jamie Murphy and Kieran Tierney - to stake their own claim for a place in future squads.

But the priority, at least for Strachan, will be to win. Anything else is secondary.

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