John McGinn criticised Scotland’s unacceptable lack of belief as their Euro 2020 qualifying hopes were dented further by last night’s 2-1 defeat to Russia.
The Aston Villa man scored his first international goal after 10 minutes but that was as good as it got for the Scots, as they gradually retreated back towards their own goal and allowed Russia to turn the game on its head.
They now sit six points behind the second-placed Russians, with Belgium to come to Glasgow on Monday and a trip to Moscow next month for the return fixture against Stanislav Cherchesov’s side.
A promising first 15 minutes soon faded from view as Scotland allowed Russia to control the game, erasing their early momentum and drawing an unhappy response from the goalscorer.
McGinn said: “We lacked a bit of belief and that’s not acceptable. We have got to believe that when we go a goal up in a game, we can go and make it two or three nil. If we don’t do that then we’ll never make any tournaments.
“It was a surprise because of the way we were playing, we were putting Russia under pressure and they were making mistakes. But we ended up going from playing to our strengths to playing in a way that suited them.
“They were more streetwise than us, they won more second balls and it was disappointing for that to happen.”
Goals from Artem Dzyuba and ex-Chelsea wide man Yuri Zhirkov turned the game in Russia’s favour and keeps them in touch with group leaders Belgium.
Roberto Martinez’s men visit Hampden in two days’ time on the back of a 4-0 win against San Marino yesterday, which keeps up their 100 per cent record in the group. They beat Scotland 3-0 in Brussels in June and while the task looks insurmountable, McGinn’s thoughts have not drifted to the play-offs next year just yet.
He added: “We have to try to use what we played like in the first twenty or twenty five minutes and take it into Monday. We respect Belgium but we have to believe in ourselves more. I’m sure everyone would agree we have a very talented squad – but it’s now up to us to go out and show that.
“It’s a big task we face now and Monday is a difficult game. It has extra importance now because we’ve got to win. It doesn’t come more difficult than Belgium, but it’s our own fault we are in this position.
“We are not thinking about having the play-offs at the moment. It won’t matter how we get there if we do it, but right now the focus is on the group we’re playing in.”