From Forgotten Man To Scotland's Talisman: Scott McTominay Stuns Spain

His United career hangs in the balance, but McTominay is vital to Scotland
21:38, 28 Mar 2023

Scott McTominay might be a name that inspires moans of derision on a Manchester United team sheet, but his is fast becoming the first scribbled down on a Scotland starting lineup. The Manchester United midfielder followed up his brace on Saturday with another double tonight against Spain. Scotland went on to win this Euro 2024 Group A qualifier 2-0, with the contributions of McTominay giving the Tartan Army something to savour for a long time to come.

Scotland were up against it at Hampden Park this evening, despite their home advantage. The referee was taken in by some Pedro Porro simulation, with Andy Robertson outraged as the apparent perpetrator of a non-foul. The home crowd were rankled for the rest of the half, with Porro in particular a target.


McTominay had got the Hampden crowd roaring for the right reasons in the early going, when Andy Robertson’s diligent pressing created an opening. The Liverpool man played in his club rival and international brother in arms who finished with calm aplomb.

The oft-maligned midfielder doubled his money in the second half. Kieran Tierney’s freight-train run down the left saw David Garcia get something on his cross. The loose ball was seized upon by McTominay who slipped it past Kepa with a striker’s precision.

McTominay has seen his influence wane at Old Trafford this season. Casemiro and Christian Eriksen broke up the long-debated ‘McFred’ pivot. Erik ten Hag has generally preferred Fred when one of the two has played, while Marcel Sabitzer was signed on loan from Bayern Munich to cover for Eriksen’s injury. But McTominay’s importance to Scotland cannot be overstated.

Manager Steve Clarke has benefited from McTominay’s abilities in attacking areas, a trajectory his United career has been on too. While Clarke has used the 26-year-old in defence in the past, the Red Devils anointed him as a defensive midfielder earlier in his tenure. His physical gifts and eye for goal make him more of a box-to-box proposition. While his future at club level is unclear, this marauding midfield role should be McTominay’s at international level for a long time to come.

Elsewhere, Wales won 1-0 in their Matchday 2 tie with Latvia in Group A. Rob Page’s men are adjusting to life without talisman Gareth Bale, and have started that era admirably. A 1-1 draw with Croatia on Saturday was dramatically sealed with an injury-time Nathan Broadhead winner. Wales then went up through the gears tonight to see off weaker opposition.

The opening goal was a result of some fine creative play down the left flank. Daniel James, the on-loan Leeds United winger currently plying his trade at Fulham, whipped in a crisp ball from the channel. Kieffer Moore rose to power home his header, 

Page and his side will be disappointed they didn’t add to Moore’s first half goal, but ultimately it has been a successful international break for Wales. Long derided as a one-man team, they are starting to step out of Bale’s long shadow. Four points from their opening two Euro 2024 qualifiers is a mighty fine start to a new era.

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