Daily Mail

McGinn sends Scots top

- CRAIG HOPE at Hampden Park

sCOTlAND had thrown everything at Ukraine — feet, head and hearts — and were just about to ask for kitchen sinks from the residents of Glasgow’s south side when John McGinn’s backside finally broke Ukrainian resistance. The Aston Villa midfielder admits he has the beefiest behind in football and the home captain duly used his rear to dump defender Valerii Bondar on his before lashing the opening goal on 70 minutes. substitute lyndon Dykes then headed a pair of late goals to add deserved gloss to the scoreline.

And what a relief that was for steve Clarke, whose side move to the top of their Nations league group with two to play. remain at the summit and they guarantee a play-off spot for euro 2024 as well earning second seed in the qualifying draw. There are also potential implicatio­ns for the 2026 World Cup. This, then, had plenty riding on it.

Not that the evening went to plan for the opening hour or so. even in foresight the decision to hold a minute’s applause for Queen elizabeth ii prior to kick-off felt risky, and so it proved. While large numbers were respectful, there was audible booing throughout. it was not a minority and, given such division among the home fanbase, the game started amid a muted atmosphere. The mood inside this usually raucous stadium took another hit when, on 26 minutes, everton right back Nathan Patterson was carried off with what looked a serious knee injury. But injustice has a habit of stirring the masses and, after Che Adams was taken out by Bondar with a block to make even an NFl linebacker wince, the scots cried foul when the punishment was just yellow. it rallied those on the field, too and, after a flurry of openings were either saved or hit the woodwork, McGinn’s rump intervened to set up a sizzling finale.

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