Scotland eased to a 3-0 victory over Luxembourg last night, in their opening UEFA Under-21 European Championship qualifier at St.Mirren Park in Paisley to move top of the group.
The squad only had one debutant in Hearts Jamie Walker who joined Celtic’s Tony Watt and Dundee United’s Stuart Armstrong in a three-man forward line.
The first chance of the game fell to Luxembourg, a free-kick, 30 seconds into the match from Sergio Teixeria which was whipped in low to the front post but Jordan Archer got down to save the shot.
Luxembourg then had another great chance to take the lead on four minutes when Tom Laterza put in a fantastic cross along the Scotland box but Sergio Turpel was unable to prod it into the net.
Scotland’s first real opportunity of the game didn’t arrive until 17 minutes in when captain Stuart Armstrong, who was making his 13th appearance for the Under-21’s had a shot go just wide.
Celtic’s Lewis Toshney nearly put Scotland in front on the half-hour but his strike from just outside the box crashed of the upside of the bar.
Scotland were getting ever closer to taking the lead and were unlucky not to go in front when a Fraser Fyvie corner was flicked on at front post by Clark Robertson however Toshney at the back post was unable to get a head on the ball and it whizzed past for a goal-kick.
However Scotland were not to be denied and they got their well-deserved goal with the last kick of the half.
Hearts Jamie Walker who was making his debut for the Under-21s, powered in a fantastic top corner goal from just outside the box. Lewis Toshney had headed the ball down to Walker from a Fyvie cross and Walker unleashed a blistering strike which went straight into the top corner of the net to give Scotland the lead at the break.
Into the second-half and Scotland could have had a second only seconds after the re-start. Tony Watt flicked the ball over a defender in the box before volleying a shot which hit straight off the keeper.
Luxembourg’s best chance of the game fell to Turpel after the big striker was set up by second-half substitute Ryan Klapps back heel but Turpel could only hit his shot wide across goal when he should have tested Archer in goal.
With an hour of the game gone, Wigan’s Fraser Fyvie had a speculative strike from 25 yards out which Pfeiffer in the Luxembourg goal did well to tip over the bar and out for a corner.
But Pfieffer was to make his first of two calamitous mistakes which cost Luxembourg the game on 65 minutes, when he picked up a back pass three yards out from goal.
This gave Scotland the perfect opportunity to extend their lead which they did through Tony Watt. The Celtic youngster hit the in-direct free kick into the top corner of the net which none of the eleven Luxembourg players on the line could prevent from going in.
Scotland’s third and final goal was to come five minutes from time through defender Lewis Toshney. A Ryan Fraser cross from out wide should have been easily mopped up by the Luxembourg keeper, however he fumbled it and Toshney made no mistake in volleying the ball from eight yards into an empty net.
Scotland now travel to the Netherlands on the 5th of September as group leaders.
After the game, Scotland manager Billy Stark said: “I am delighted with the result. We started a bit nervously for the first five minutes. We were defending a free-kick early in the game and you don’t want that. We recovered well from it. We played some very good football. We used the next hour of the game to do the damage.
“The goal before half-time was a real boost for us. We had control of the game; we used the pitch to get our wide players into the game. We had some good plays and some good chances. Getting the goal before half-time was certainly a great boost.”
Scotland: Jordan Archer, Ryan Jack, Kevin McHattie, Lewis Toshney, Clark Robertson, Stuart Bannigan (Islam Feruz), Dylan McGeouch, Fraser Fyvie, Anthony Watt (Kenneth McLean), Stuart Armstrong, Jamie Walker (Ryan Fraser).
Subs not used: Christoper Kettings, Kieran Duffie, Murray Wallace, David Smith.
Luxembourg: Steve Pfeiffer, Tom Laterza (Jeff Lascak), Pit Hess, Christophe De Sousa, Dzenid Ramdedovic, Admir Skrijeji, Dejvid Sinani, Michel Bechtold, David Turpel, Sergio Teixeria (Ryan Klapp), Ken Corral (Giuliano Jackson).
Subs not used: Rick Hess, Nenad Dragovic, Kevin Holtz, Edis Agovic
Referee: Dennis Antamo