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Rhodes on song for Scotland in lacklustre Luxembourg win

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Two first half goals from Jordan Rhodes was enough for Scotland to secure 2-1 victory in Luxembourg, however the performance was far from the level that many expected Scotland to show on the night in Billy Stark’s first game in charge, albeit temporary.

The Blackburn Rovers striker headed home with the help of the post after a Paul Dixon cross struck the arm of a defender on 11 minutes. Rhodes fired home his second of the game 10 minutes later after Joubert parried a shot from Shinnie.

However, a superb free kick from Lars Gerson minutes into the second half gave Luxembourg a lifeline, but Scotland held out for a not too impressive victory over the European minnows.

Scotland started the game brightly and firmly dominated the early exchanges which should have resulted in a goal on eight minutes with the first real opportunity of the game.

Guy Blaise made a hash of his clearance, which gifted Rhodes the chance to run through on goal, but the striker fired his shot wide of the Luxembourg goal.

But Rhodes more than made up for that miss, when minutes later he bagged Scotland’s opening goal of the game.

Former Dundee United full back Paul Dixon fired in cross from the left-wing which struck the arm of Blaise, but that infringement became irrelevant when Rhodes headed home the rebound with help from the post.

Despite Scotland dominating the half, Luxembourg still posed a threat to the Scotland goal and Matt Gllks was called into action on 15 minutes, a Mario Mutsch header at the back post was gratefully gathered by the Blackpool keeper after a Tom Schnell cross.

Moments later, Mutsch pounced on some lax defending from the visitors but could only fire his shot wide of Gilks’ goal.

However, it was Scotland who would find the back of the net again with Rhodes finding that killer instinct once more. A shot from debut boy Andrew Shinnie forced Luxembourg keeper Joubert to knock it into the path of Rhodes for a simple tap-in.

Despite Scotland playing a neat passing game, their ball in the final third was a let down, but Luxembourg should really have pulled a goal back just before the break when Mutsch’s cross found Charles Leweck in acres of room, but his shot from 18 yards out was comfortably saved by Gilks once more.

Minutes into the second half and substitute Liam Kelly conceded a free kick – his first action on his debut – which led to Luxembourg pulling a goal back.

Gerson took the resulting free kick and curled in a superb effort over the wall from 20 yards out to give the hosts a lifeline.

That goal signaled Luxembourg’s intent as they pushed forward-looking for an equaliser, while Scotland disappeared back into their Craig Levein-era cocoon that was self-evident through their recent disastrous World Cup qualifiers.

On 72 minutes, Luxembourg almost secured that equaliser as Mutsch again, proving a thorn in Scotland’s side, sent in a cross from the left which was met by Stefano Bensi, but Gilks managed to knock it round the post and out for corner – although the Blackpool keeper did made a meal of it.

Late on, Rhodes was denied his first senior hat trick when he was flagged for offside as he headed in from 10 yards out.

Despite a late chance for Luxembourg, Scotland held on against the European minnows and they must now look towards securing a manager that will turn around the nations fortunes on the pitch.

After tonight’s showing – and taking into account the nine call offs – there is much work needed to be done with the squad and with Gordon Strachan almost certain to reject the national job in favour of sticking with securing a club job, the Scottish FA’s job of hiring a man who can secure qualification to a major tournament, became all the much harder.

Scotland: Gilks, Whittaker, Dixon, Berra, Hanley, Mulgrew, D Fletcher (C), Shinnie, Miller, Rhodes, Naismith.

Subs: Samson, Webster, Barr, Davidson, Kelly, Bell, Griffiths.

Luxembourg: Joubert, Schnell, Blaise, Bukvic, Janisch, Leweck, Gerson, Payal, Bettmer, Mutsch (C), Deville.

Subs: Oberweis, Malget, Hoffmann, Peters, Da Mota, Bensi, Laterza, Philipps, Jans, Turpel.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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