Peru 2-0 Scotland: Alex McLeish praises mentality of seven debutants

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Players 'embraced' Peru atmosphere - McLeish

Manager Alex McLeish praised Scotland's seven debutants for coping with the atmosphere and the conditions in a 2-0 defeat to Peru.

The Estadio Nacional de Lima was noisy as the home fans delivered a World Cup send-off to the players, while the temperature was stifling.

McLeish started with four new caps, while three more came off the bench.

"I'm proud of the mentality they showed in a cauldron of a place," he told BBC Scotland, "They embraced it."

McLeish added: "Bringing these guys into the team for the first time, in your head being anxious about hoping they don't make big mistakes, and they handled it really well.

"It was hot out on the surface, especially when you're doing a lot of chasing around, which the Peruvians made us do."

Peru striker Jefferson Farfan earns a penalty against Scotland
Peru striker Jefferson Farfan won a first-half penalty when his shot struck Scott McKenna's arm

Scotland set out to contain the hosts, who are 11th in the Fifa rankings, and McLeish felt the players had done enough to deserve to come in at half-time on level terms.

Yet eight minutes before the interval, goalkeeper Jordan Archer rushed off his line and almost collided with Charlie Mulgrew, who was chasing back to cover Jefferson Farfan. The Peruvian striker took advantage of the mix-up and his shot was blocked by Scott McKenna's raised arm.

Christian Cueva converted the resultant penalty kick and Farfan added the second goal two minutes after the interval, when his shot squirmed under Archer's hand.

The Millwall goalkeeper was making his first start, along with full-backs Stephen O'Donnell and Lewis Stevenson, and midfielder Dylan McGeouch.

"I was very pleased with the first half, we really contained them," McLeish said.

Scotland goalkeeper Jordan Archer concedes against Peru
Scotland goalkeeper Jordan Archer couldn't prevent Farfan's shot from slipping beneath his grasp for the second goal

"They're a super team, they move it about well and they know each other inside out, the movement, the strength of them, their individual skills.

"To lose the goal the way we did just before half-time was a shame. I was pleased with the guys despite all the call-offs we've had, bringing new guys in. They have to be allowed to make a mistake or two.

"I'm gutted, I was really disappointed to see the first goal go in, it was very basic, one man runs into the box in behind. We knew Farfan did that, we showed the players, but we got sucked out at a vital moment and that proved costly for us.

"The players were very well organised, we had some really good displays on the defensive side. Working out how to get ourselves into goalscoring situations is the main key for us.

Scotland striker Oli McBurnie
Alex McLeish felt striker Oli McBurnie could have pulled a goal back for the visitors in Lima

"We had a good chance towards the end, if big Oli [McBurnie] had just pulled his left peg back he could have drilled it into the corner and it would have given us a lifeline."

Graeme Shinnie, Lewis Morgan and Chris Cadden came off the bench to make their first appearances for Scotland and McLeish expects to utilise the full depth of his squad as he prepares for Sunday morning's friendly against Mexico, with some players now being allowed to return to the UK.

"The conditions may be a factor, because some of the guys were beginning to breathe heavily towards the end of the game," McLeish said.

"We're going to lose a couple of players now. Lewis Stevenson is going away, we had an agreement with him to play the first game, Matt Phillips is going back to England for an engagement there, which we agreed a couple of months ago.

"It's a squad in which everybody deserves a cap."

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