With Steve Clarke calling on his side to find some stability during this month’s international break, Scotland laid down a real marker on Wednesday night as they picked up a 3-0 romp against Ukraine at Hampden.
Looking to go some way in compensating for their World Cup play-off heartbreak at the hands of Ukraine back in June, the Tartan Army couldn’t have wished for a better response here.
While they might have left it late in Glasgow, goals from John McGinn and a quickfire Lyndon Dykes brace helped Scotland find a route to the top of Group B1.
Two sides who still have their sights set on clinching a Nations League promotion this month, what did we the main talking points from Wednesday’s showdown at Hampden?
Scotland hold their fate in their own hands
Watching their World Cup dreams go up in smoke back on June 1st as they were hit with an infamous 3-1 loss against Ukraine in Glasgow, Scotland were hoping to gain some level of revenge here.
Heading into the summer break with a 4-1 win away at Armenia, Clarke should be boosted by his side’s largely impressive run since opening this year’s Nations League tournament.
While the ex-Kilmarnock boss might have come under some growing scrutiny just three months ago following a dreadful 3-0 drumming against British rivals Ireland, Scotland have taken nine points from their four Group B1 apperances.
Likewise, mounting a stellar second-half romp here as McGinn and Dykes bagged three goals between them in just the space of 17 minuets, Wednesday’s hosts also find themselves sat in pole position to clinch a shock promotion this month.
In fact, winning each of their last four Nations League matchups in Glasgow by an aggregate score of 7-0, Clarke’s side are also within touching distance of clinching a place in the EURO 2024 play-offs.
A night to forget for Ukraine
Putting in a famous display at Hampden three months ago as they secured an iconic 3-1 romp while on World Cup play-off duties, there is no doubt that Ukraine would have been seeking a similar display here.
However, while Oleksandr Petrakov’s men might have opened this year’s Nations League adventure with back-to-back victories against Ireland and Armenia, Wednesday’s guests would have came crashing back down to earth here.
Despite being tipped as a standout pick to clinch an immediate League A return this year, the Yellows have shown some signs of a hangover following that heartbreaking 1-0 loss away at Wales back on June 5th.
Leaving most of Europe devestated as they fell at the final hurdle and missed out on the chance to punch thier ticket to Qatar, Petrakov will quickly have to go back to the drawing board.
Heading into the summer break with a 1-1 draw against Ireland, Ukraine will now know that they face a real uphill struggle over the next week.
More than a football match
While it might be the Nations League that takes center stage over the next fortnight, there is always an added layer of emotion whenever Ukraine are handed the chance to feature over recent months.
With their entire squad still struggling with the ongoing conflict within their own countries since Russia’s invasion began back in February, Petrakov’s side have been vocal about how much the support they have received has helped them.
Although Ukraine might have been disappointed by their Nations League defeat at the hands of the Tartan Army here, they have been grateful to Scotland for the humanitarian that they have offered during this devestating time.
Despite the likes of England receiving public criticism for the limited number of displaced people that they have accepted over the past six months, Scotland have been quick to act.
Along with receiving praise from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, it is believed that the Scots have welcomed over 9000 Ukrainians to their country following an extensive visa program.
Scotland: Gordon, Patterson, Hendry, McKenna, Tierney, McTominay, McGregor, Armstrong, McGinn, Christie, Adams
Subs: Fraser, Taylor, Hickey, Dykes, McLean
Ukraine: Trubin, Karavaev, Bondar, Matviyenko, Mykhailichenko, Stepanenko, Yarmolenko, Pikhalyonok, Malinovskyi, Mudryk, Dovbyk
Subs: Sydorchuk, Tsygankov, Zubkov, Ignatenko, Yaremchuk
Goals: McGinn (70′), Dykes (80′, 87′)
Yellow Cards: Bondar, Malinovskyi, Sydorchuk, Stepanenko, Yaremchuk
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Maurizio Mariani