JOHN McGINN was in the wars as he took the Scotland captain’s armband from the injured Andy Robertson for the crucial UEFA Nations League encounter against Armenia in Yerevan.

The Aston Villa midfielder saw the Scots concede a goal in the sixth minute, come back to lead 2-1 at the interval with a double salvo from Stuart Armstrong and he thumped in the third shortly after the turnaround.

Che Adams fired in a fourth as McGinn led Steve Clarke’s men to three much-needed points after the 3-0 flop against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin at the weekend.

And the former Hibs star was also on the receiving end of a crazy headbutt from out-of-control Arman Hovhannisyan just before half-time that saw the hardman defender dismissed.

SEEING RED…John McGinn winces as Arman Hovhannisyan loses the plot in the first-half.

McGinn said: “It started to get a bit tasty, but it was important that we looked after ourselves.

“A few of their lads lost their heads a little bit as the game was going against them.

“I was malkied and the boys were winding me up saying I was acting a wee bit too dramatic.

“I didn’t expect him to put his head towards me. He definitely caught me.

“As a team, we had to be careful as the last game at Hampden we saw them getting a wee bit naughty in the last 10 minutes.

“So, when you come to places like this you need to be prepared for it.

NUMBER ONE…Stuart Armstrong races away after equalising.

“Big Scott McTominay’s booking aside, we dealt with all that very well.”

The Scots, knocked out of the World Cup by Ukraine 3-1 at Hampden by Ukraine at the start of the month, got off to a stuttering start and the three-man defence of McTominay, Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry looked far from convincing.

McGinn, speaking to the Scottish Sun, admitted: “We could easily have crumbled. The start we had something the manager isn’t happy with and rightly so.

“Even from the first minute when we kicked the ball out of play. That gives a team like Armenia some momentum.

“We had to show big character and we certainly managed to do that in the end.

NUMBER TWO…Stuart Armstrong thunders the Scots into an interval lead.

“It was crucial that we ended on a high as it’s been an extremely disappointing camp for us.

“This win and the one at Hampden doesn’t really atone for missing out on what we were all looking to achieve so it was a damaging night at Hampden and a damaging night in Dublin.

“Those were two big bumps on the road, but it’s now up to us to make sure that they are the only bumps on the road.”

McGinn added: “It’s always a proud occasion when I step in for Robbo but on the goal front, that’s something which has been bothering me.

NUMBER THREE…John McGinn fires past the helpless David Yurchenko.

“I’ve been passing up good chances and that’s something I’ve been extremely frustrated about.

“That frustration was clear in all of the recent games, so I was delighted to get one on this occasion.

“If you speak to any of the front three who played in the game, you had Stu who came in and was Man of the Match by a mile.

“But myself and Che probably haven’t been firing on all cylinders, so that hasn’t helped the squad or the team.

“It’s important that we managed to get ourselves back on the scoresheet. I don’t know who was more relieved, me or Che.”

NUMBER FOUR…Che Adams thumps the ball wide of the despairing keeper.

Armenia completed the contest with nine men after Kamo Hovhannisyan was red-carded following a wild lunge at Scotland substitute Lewis Ferguson in the last minute.

Clarke and his players can now take a breather before they go back into Nations League action again with a home game against World Cup conquerors Ukraine on September 21 which is followed by another home confrontation against the Republic of Ireland three days later.

The curtain comes down on the qualifying group with an away game against Ukraine on September 27.


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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