UEFA Nations League - Group C1
Albania0Scotland4

Albania 0-4 Scotland: Alex McLeish's side stroll past 10-man Albania in Nations League

Steven Fletcher (centre) and Ryan Fraser (second right)
Steven Fletcher (centre) and Ryan Fraser (second right) scored in the first half for Scotland

Scotland thumped 10-man Albania to go level on points with Israel at the top of Nations League Group C1.

Ryan Fraser and James Forrest scored their first goals for Scotland, while a Steven Fletcher penalty was his first goal for his country in over two years.

Albania's chances were not helped by Mergim Mavraj's red card after he head-butted Ryan Christie at 1-0.

A win over Israel on Tuesday at Hampden will win the group for Scotland and seize a play-off spot.

And, with that, they would be just two games away from Euro 2020 qualification should they not have already earned it through the qualifying groups that begin next year.

The win in Shkoder lifts the pressure off head coach Alex McLeish after last month's defeat in Israel.

Nine call-offs pre-match had left him struggling for options, but his young, energetic side impressed and could have won by more.

'Scotland a joy to watch'

It was not a must-win in terms of Scotland's chances of topping the group, but for confidence in McLeish's reign, a result and a performance was badly needed.

In an error-strewn opening from both sides, it was the visitors who looked the more dangerous. McLeish had set out his stall with an attacking line-up and blue shirts swarmed over Albania's backline, pressing high.

It paid off when Christie nicked possession on the edge of the box and touched the ball to Fraser, who dropped the shoulder and finished into the far corner on his right foot.

Christie was again in the thick of the action as the game took another turn towards the visitors. Albania captain Mavraj appeared to lurch his head towards the Celtic forward.

Referee Vladislav Bezborodov, who was in the process of booking Mavraj for a foul on Forrest, got word in his earpiece and duly reached for the red card to reduce Albania to 10 men.

At times, Scotland were a joy to watch, a glimpse into the fearless young side McLeish is desperate to see on the big stage. Albania struggled to handle Fraser, Christie and Forrest, while Callum McGregor controlled the midfield.

Before the half-time whistle, Scotland were 2-0 ahead. Rey Manaj was adjudged to have handled a Stuart Armstrong free-kick. It was harsh, the ball was hit straight at him as he jumped in the wall.

Fletcher, making his first Scotland start in over two years, and in his first appearance in the dark blue in 13 months, stepped up and stroked the penalty past goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.

Any time Albania played a high line, Scotland pounced. Christie's threaded ball allowed Forrest to put on the afterburners and he added a third after the break.

It was night and day from the disappointing display in Haifa last month - and Scotland were still not done.

On his 25th appearance, Forrest had already scored his first goal. But his second showed what a top player the Celtic winger has now become; collecting Fraser's pass, knocking the ball up with his right foot and thumping in a volley with his left.

Scotland have done the first part of the job and now a win over Israel at Hampden will complete the first assignment of winning their Nations League group ahead of the draw in two weeks for the Euro 2020 qualifying groups.

'Fitting end to difficult year within grasp'

BBC Scotland's Brian McLauchlin in Albania

As Forrest volleyed in Scotland's fourth goal, the swirling noise of the bagpipes could be heard from the 2000 Tartan Army members who had made the lengthy and difficult trip to Shkoder in Northern Albania.

And, after the huge disappointment of the Israel defeat, no one can deny them the celebrations that will undoubtedly follow late into the night.

From the first minute until the last, Scotland were simply outstanding.

With so many call-offs prior to the game, the pressure was on, but to a man they handled this with ease.

But the real heroes were Forrest and Fraser. Their pace was a constant threat the Albanians simply couldn't cope with.

The real test will come on Tuesday at Hampden, where we now know a win will be good enough for Scotland to progress to the next stage of the tournament.

And what a boost that would be at the end of what has been a difficult year for the national team and their head coach.

Line-ups

Albania

  • 1Berisha
  • 5Veseli
  • 6DjimsitiSubstituted forDermakuat 52'minutes
  • 15MavrajBooked at 21mins
  • 17Binaku
  • 22Uzuni
  • 20KaceSubstituted forIsmajliat 27'minutes
  • 14Xhaka
  • 7GrezdaBooked at 88mins
  • 9Memushaj
  • 10ManajBooked at 12minsSubstituted forBalajat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Lila
  • 3Kaja
  • 4Ismajli
  • 8Ademi
  • 11Vrioni
  • 12Kastrati
  • 13Lilaj
  • 16Ndoj
  • 18Dermaku
  • 19Balaj
  • 21Gavazaj
  • 23Strakosha

Scotland

  • 1McGregor
  • 2PatersonBooked at 10mins
  • 4BatesBooked at 65mins
  • 5McKennaBooked at 60mins
  • 3Robertson
  • 6McGregor
  • 7Forrest
  • 8ArmstrongSubstituted forMcTominayat 61'minutes
  • 10Christie
  • 11FraserSubstituted forRussellat 73'minutesBooked at 80mins
  • 9FletcherSubstituted forPhillipsat 68'minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Bain
  • 14Hendry
  • 15Shinnie
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 17McTominay
  • 18Phillips
  • 19McBurnie
  • 20Russell
  • 21MacDonald
Referee:
Vladislav Bezborodov
Attendance:
8,632

Match Stats

Home TeamAlbaniaAway TeamScotland
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home7
Away20
Shots on Target
Home0
Away6
Corners
Home3
Away6
Fouls
Home10
Away20

Live Text

Match ends, Albania 0, Scotland 4.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Albania 0, Scotland 4.

Ardian Ismajli (Albania) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Johnny Russell (Scotland).

Bekim Balaj (Albania) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by David Bates (Scotland).

Booking

Eros Grezda (Albania) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Eros Grezda (Albania).

Scott McTominay (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Matt Phillips (Scotland) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Johnny Russell.

Booking

Johnny Russell (Scotland) is shown the yellow card.

Eros Grezda (Albania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Matt Phillips (Scotland).

Attempt blocked. James Forrest (Scotland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Christie.

Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Ardian Ismajli.

Attempt missed. Matt Phillips (Scotland) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Andrew Robertson with a cross.

Foul by Eros Grezda (Albania).

Johnny Russell (Scotland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Scott McTominay (Scotland) hits the bar with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Johnny Russell.

Bekim Balaj (Albania) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Johnny Russell (Scotland).

Substitution

Substitution, Scotland. Johnny Russell replaces Ryan Fraser.

Foul by Myrto Uzuni (Albania).

Allan McGregor (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Eros Grezda (Albania) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Callum Paterson (Scotland).

Ledian Memushaj (Albania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Scott McTominay (Scotland).

Attempt missed. Andrew Robertson (Scotland) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Substitution

Substitution, Scotland. Matt Phillips replaces Steven Fletcher.

Goal!

Goal! Albania 0, Scotland 4. James Forrest (Scotland) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ryan Fraser.

Ardian Ismajli (Albania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Callum Paterson (Scotland).

Attempt missed. Ledian Memushaj (Albania) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Booking

David Bates (Scotland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Taulant Xhaka (Albania) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by David Bates (Scotland).

Attempt blocked. Steven Fletcher (Scotland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott McTominay.

Attempt missed. Scott McTominay (Scotland) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Andrew Robertson.

Offside, Scotland. James Forrest tries a through ball, but David Bates is caught offside.

goal

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Saturday 17th November 2018

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France42114407
2Netherlands32016246
3Germany301215-41

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium33007169
2Switzerland32019366
3Iceland4004113-120

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Portugal32104227
2Italy41212205
3Poland301235-21

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain420212756
2England31114404
3Croatia311138-54

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Ukraine43015509
2Czech Rep310234-13
3Slovakia31025413

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Russia32104137
2Sweden31113304
3Turkey410347-33

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Bos-Herze431051410
2Austria31111104
3Northern Ireland300315-40

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Denmark32104137
2Wales42026516
3R. of Ireland301215-41

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Israel32014226
2Scotland32017256
3Albania410318-73

J

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Finland540151412
2Greece53024409
3Hungary52127617
4Estonia501438-51

K

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norway531152310
2Bulgaria531164210
3Cyprus512257-25
4Slovenia502347-32

L

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Serbia532073411
2Romania52307349
3Montenegro52127527
4Lithuania5005212-100

M

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Georgia5410101913
2Kazakhstan51317526
3Latvia503226-43
4Andorra503229-73

N

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belarus532080811
2Luxembourg530210379
3Moldova522134-18
4San Marino5005014-140

O

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Kosovo5320112911
2Azerbaijan52307259
3Faroe Islands511349-54
4Malta5023413-92

P

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Macedonia5401105512
2Armenia530212669
3Gibraltar5203511-66
4Liechtenstein5104510-53
View full UEFA Nations League tables

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