Alex McLeish’s second reign as manager of the Scotland national team got off to a losing start, as World Cup qualifiers and 2014 quarter-finalists Costa Rica won 1-0 at Hampden Park. Despite the defeat, however, the 59-year-old will more than likely be satisfied given that the scoreline probably could’ve been a lot worse if Costa Rica were at the top of their game.
It wasn’t exactly a perfect performance by any stretch of the imagination but given the strength and pedigree of the opposition, a 1-0 loss in a friendly isn’t the end of the world – and it offers McLeish a chance to start building off of what he’s seen as he tries to settle into a position he hasn’t held for over a decade.
The momentum of a new man being at the helm didn’t seem to lead to any renewed optimism, as the crowd at Hampden was even lower than usual. The empty seats were noticeable for everyone to see, but thankfully for the future of the team, this was a relatively pointless friendly that was offered up on a Friday night.
With that being said, the actual quality on the pitch didn’t exactly inspire the masses as the Scots got off to a slow and lumbering start. They seemed to struggle to put anything of real note together, and when you’re coming up against a well-oiled unit like Costa Rica, you’re likely always going to be punished for that.
Back and forth
Oviedo and Urena managed to combine brilliantly for the one and only goal of the game, but instead of capitulating, Scotland seemed to weather the storm from that moment onwards. Ritchie was showing some bright sparks as Costa Rica sat back on their lead, although whenever they broke forward it felt like there was always the threat of another goal being added to their tally.
The second half saw Bryan Ruiz hit the bar as the visitors stepped up the tempo, although Alex McLeish’s team talk seemed to work as the home side fought back into the game with more determination than many probably could’ve anticipated.
McTominay seemed like a welcome addition to the first team, and although there are more than enough negatives for fans to focus on, Scotland showed signs of growth – although that needs to come over the course of 90 minutes, as opposed to just in flashes.
McLeish’s men will now move on to take on Hungary this Tuesday, meanwhile, the World Cup-bound Costa Rica will go head to head with fellow WC competitors Tunisia.
Scotland: McGregor (6.5), Paterson (6), McKenna (7), Hanley (6), Mulgrew (6) (McGinn (N/A), 82′), Robertson (6.5), Cairney (6) (McGregor (5.5), 58′), McTominay (6.5) (Armstrong (6), 58′), McDonald (5), Ritchie (5.5) (Murphy (N/A), 87′), McBurnie (6.5) (Phillips (N/A), 77′)
Costa Rica: Navas (7), Gamboa (6) (Smith (N/A), 75′), Gonzalez (5.5), Acosta (6), Duarte (7), Oviedo (7) (Calvo (N/A), 78′), Colindres (6.5) (Wallace (6.5), 64′), Borges (7), Guzman (5.5) (Tejeda (6), 56′), Ruiz (7), Urena (7.5) (Ruiz (N/A), 69′)
Goals: Urena (14′)
Referee: Tobias Stieler
Yellow Cards: Guzman (23′)
Red Cards: N/A
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