John McGinn had a moment of redemption as the Aston Villa midfielder’s 70th-minute opener helped Scotland surge to the top of Nations League group with a clinical victory over Ukraine 

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That miss in June shouldn’t weigh that much on John McGinn. no anymore.

As it looked like Scotland just couldn’t get the prize, the midfielder’s individual moment of redemption crowned a stellar team performance – completely transformed by a lame loss to Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final .

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McGinn has admitted that when Qatar’s hopes were dashed in the second half, he was haunted by his failure to convert from close range.

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John McGuin had a redemption moment as he helped Scotland win 3-0 over Ukraine

If that was a moment of utter agony, there was an absolute joy here. Well, it aired on the same end of Hampden.

Kieran Tierney’s challenge forced the ball to head in his direction, with McGuin using the most effective backside in international football to get away from Valerie Bondar. This time, the finale was unmistakable.

It provided a breakthrough in the 70th minute after a succession of unsuccessful opportunities, reaching the bottom corner of the net. Among the one-way traffic of the second period, Stuart Armstrong alone had three.

A midfielder’s goal in the 70th minute helped Scotland top the Nations League group

Steve Clarke faced a lot of criticism after the Ukrainians ousted their hosts three months ago.

The Boss got everything right to send Scotland to the top of Nations League Group B1. It was one of the finest performances of his tenure. An exhibition of talent within this squad.

Changes in the system, away from the previous three, have enabled Scotland to flourish. And Clark’s replacement was perfect.

Ryan Fraser and Lyndon Dykes were introduced to end the match. He did so in style. Twice in the final ten minutes, Fraser cornered Dykes to drive home.

For the Newcastle winger, it was quite a cameo on his return to international level. For Dykes, it was a powerful way to end the race with just one goal in 24 matches with club and country.

Lyndon Dykes comes off the bench for making two late headers against Ukraine in a 3-0 win

Lyndon Dykes comes off the bench for making two late headers against Ukraine in a 3-0 win

Scotland now has it in their hands. A win over the Republic of Ireland on Saturday evening would require only a draw against Ukraine in Poland on the following Tuesday.

Play again like this and it is highly possible to secure a Nations League promotion and a back-up play-off option for Euro 2024. After all the gloom in June, optimism breathes again.

Ukraine looked somewhat stunned. Speaking at the pre-match media conference, captain Andrey Yarmolenko had insisted that the will to win for his aggrieved compatriot was strong in every way.

Once again, each guest player came out of the Hampden Tunnel draped in their national flag.

Coach Oleksandr Petrakov was missing some options due to injury, most notably Oleksandr Zinchenko. The excellent, versatile Arsenal man is torn apart by a calf injury in a play-off win.

For Scotland, Tierney’s return in place of injured Andy Robertson was one of six personnel changes made by Clarke from the previous meeting. The formation was also changed.

Scott McTominay was positioned in midfield – instead of centre-back – as part of a 4-2-3-1 set-up. Clark was clearly aware of the lessons learned from June.

A back four with Jack Hendry and Scott McKenna as its central components still had to show resilience against talented opponents.

Once the game got underway – after a minute of applause for the late Queen, which caused some euphoria within the Hampden crowd – Ukraine caused some early alarm when Artem Dovbic suddenly sprung up against Hendry in a face-off. A previous scorer on this ground, the Dinipro forward could not capitalize.

A minute's silence was observed for the late Queen Elizabeth at Hampden Park before kick-off

A minute’s silence was observed for the late Queen Elizabeth at Hampden Park before kick-off

That little fear stirred Scotland. Clarke’s side was on the front foot for most of the first half. Ukraine was not able to play around them as it used to be.

Tierney’s presence was also important. He saw Che Adams peeling to the left and passed through that channel to complete the striker’s run.

Adams extended his lead towards the field, with a slip from Bondar allowing the goal. It was directly on goalkeeper Anatoly Trubin.

Ryan Christie saw through a crisp pass at Nathan Patterson before finding a taker through the six-yard box saw the ball go off the toes of the right back.

Scotland were stepping up the home defense but could not find the last moment to make the incision. A little more care and restraint was needed.

When Patterson crossed from the right, a clever flick header from John McGuin lost the goal. McGinn will soon be the victim of a challenge from Taras Stepanenko, who handed the first yellow card of the evening.

Armstrong then gave Christie a walk to a nearby post as Trubin accused of trying and punching her. Not very convincing, it must be said.

Christie had a half chance when Trubin defeated the Armstrong Snapshot but the Bournemouth man could not recover his feet.

However, as the pace was increasing, a brutal blow was struck. Patterson went down in pain after attempting a tackle and was eventually pulled off the pitch.

Considering how well he has been playing since his breakthrough at Everton, one can only hope that the damage is not serious.

Another English Premier League talent took on the right-back in Aaron Hickey, but the disruption – and concern for an ally – put Scotland to a halt.

Ukraine threatened sporadically, mainly through the light movement of Mykhailo Mudri. But they could easily have been reduced to ten men just before the break.

As Adams tried to move on, he was cleared of a desecrated body check from Bondar.

The defender raised an elbow in the bargain, but was only shown a yellow card by Italian referee Maurizio Mariani. Scotland wanted to see a different colour.

Not surprisingly, Adams needed a few minutes of treatment. Thankfully, he was able to continue.

As the second period was going on, Bondar touched the ball every time. By then, Petrakov had decided not to risk booking a second for offensive Stepanenko, bringing in Serhi Sidorchuk as his midfield replacement.

Hendry made a formidable challenge on Dovbeek before an offside flag was raised late, but it was Scotland who captured Tierney Nicks off Alexander Caraway to set up Armstrong for a straight shot at Trubin. Soon after, a big opportunity came for the midfielder.

McTominay defends the ball before feeding Armstrong with a delightful back-heel. As the target was pointed, the former Celtic man lost his temper to fire from 10 yards.

McGinn will be delighted after missing out on his World Cup play-off match against Ukraine

McGinn will be delighted after missing out on his World Cup play-off match against Ukraine

It felt like it could be a big moment. But Scotland again pressed for. His dominance increased.

McGinn crosses for the head of Adams against the bar. Moments later, the same combination caused the Southampton striker to be rejected by Trubin.

When Adams picked Armstrong for a header wide from a great position, you wondered if the ball would ever go in.

Enter McGinn. And that cleaning corner. It was a sensational end to a Hampden evening that will live on in memory for a long time.

John McGinn had a moment of redemption as the Aston Villa midfielder’s 70th-minute opener helped Scotland surge to the top of Nations League group with a clinical victory over Ukraine 

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