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Scotland fan view: A surprisingly stress-free 90 minutes in Chisinau to secure World Cup play-off

Nathan Patterson (centre) celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 with Billy Gilmour, Andy Robertson and John McGinn during Scotland's win in Moldova.
Nathan Patterson (centre) celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 with Billy Gilmour, Andy Robertson and John McGinn during Scotland's win in Moldova.

It is a rare occurrence indeed for a Scotland team to run out against an opponent from outside the top 100 in the FIFA ranking and play around them as if a class apart. Rarer still for it to happen when the stakes are high.

More often than not, Scotland tend to allow unheralded nations to establish parity by playing to their level. The only thing fluid about it is what the Tartan Army requires to consume to make it through the fraught experience.

Refreshment here, though, came in the form of an excellent, assured and dominant display by a group of young Scottish players confident in their own – and each other’s – technique. Their passing and interplay was fast, precise and patient, and ultimately handsomely rewarded.

Before too much smoke is blown up Steve Clarke and his squad, it must be noted that the scrappy wins over Moldova and the Faroes earlier in this campaign fell into the habitual, laboured category.

Without wishing to be harsh on Lyndon Dykes, to whom playoff qualification owes more than any other individual, perhaps his towering presence dupes Scotland into a more basic, direct approach which, while exploiting his talents, serves to suppress those of others.

But after so many years of Scotland’s national team scarcely managing to find any way of winning a game, it would be ungracious to complain about it now having two.

Particularly since that is now how close they stand to a second consecutive tournament qualification. None of the teams they will face from hereon in will be as lowly as Moldova, and the next phase may well call for the attritional more than the attractive. But it is comforting to know that they have the ingredients to mix it with a high-level game if that is what they are called to do.

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