Scotland 3 Cyprus 0 – Tartan Army kick off Euro 2024 campaign in style through John McGinn and Scott McTominay | The Sun

STEVE CLARKE picked his Top Gunn.

But it was his Maverick and Ice Man who shot down Cyprus at Hampden.

John McGinn scored his 16th goal for Scotland with every strike coming during the manager’s time in charge.

Cool substitute Scott McTominay’s two late strikes then sealed the result which saw Scotland get their 2024 campaign off to a flyer.

This is the first time since 2006 a group campaign for this tournament has kicked off with a win.

The Tartan Army were made to wait for the Manchester United star’s goals which made sure of the three points in Group A.

But in truth the victory was virtually assured from the moment McGinn hit the net after 20 minutes.

The Tartan Army chanted their hero’s name from kick-off and he showed why to score with a rare right-foot finish.

There was a slight delay as VAR checked whether or not Andy Robertson was off-side before he delivered his cross from the left to set McGinn up. 

But it counted and went a long, long way to getting this win.

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The former St Mirren and Hibs star is now within two goals of Kenny Miller which is an incredible statistic given he isn’t a striker.

This one saw him leapfrog Scotland legend James McFadden on the goalscoring charts.

Was this a brilliant performance as the team set off towards the finals in Germany next summer?

No, you’d have to say the only thing that was truly vintage was the 150th anniversary strip the team wore.

But getting off to a positive start with three points on the board was the only thing that mattered here ahead of Tuesday night’s home clash with Spain.

Clarke’s side certainly won’t have as much of the ball as they did yesterday.

They’ll clearly be up against a team that will come out and try to play against them which Cyprus just didn’t do.

Temuri Ketsbaia’s outfit are 110th in the world rankings for a reason.

No-one could complain with the line-up Clarke sent out and the way they were set up tactically. Or the hard graft and effort the players put in.

Callum McGregor and Ryan Jack bossed the game in the middle of the park.

While skipper Robertson marauded does the left flank time and again in a clear ploy to get at the Cypriots.

That’s where the opening goal came from with the energetic Stuart Armstrong also involved in the build-up.

The Southampton man had been booked six minutes earlier for an ugly challenge on Grigoris Kastanos which had the Salernitana star writhing in agony.

There was a real fear at the time that Armstrong could see red for the incident but thankfully he was given the benefit of the doubt by the Croatian referee and VAR.

The last thing Scotland needed was to go down to ten men when it was 0-0.

At that stage Cyprus were proving to be a touch nut to crack with St Mirren’s Alex Gogic impressive in their defence.

There was no danger of Clarke’s side conceding a goal with debutant Angus Gunn given next-to-nothing to do.

There was one anxious moment in the first-half when he slipped as he retrieved the ball inside his penalty box.

But the Norwich No1 looked generally assured and confident as he made his long-awaited international arrival.

Clarke would have loved a few more goals to make it more comfortable.

Aaron Hickey had a decent first-half effort with Che Adams close to scoring too.

There was also a shout for a penalty just seconds before the break when Gogic appeared to catch Adams inside the box but the centre-back got away with it.

Clarke made changes in the second half and subs Ryan Christie and McTominay had blasted shot charged down and blocked.

Hickey was also inches away from getting on the end of a cracking ball across goal from wing-back Robertson,

Cyprus had nothing to lose with 15 minutes to go and started to show more intent to get forward.

With only one goal separating the sides Scotland couldn’t afford any slip-ups.

It made for a few nervy moments with Kieran Tierney required to make one crucial last-man intervention and Ryan Porteous forced to take a booking for the team to prevent break forward.

The ex-Hibs star, now with Watford, also made a tremendous block to cut out a shot.

Cyprus really went for it with ten minutes left to play when Ketsbaia took off defender Gogic and replaced him with 19 year-olds winger Loizos Loizou.

In 85 minutes fellow sub Andronikos Kakoulli had a decent sight of goal but Gunn showed expert handling to make a good save.

It was threatening to end badly for Clarke and his team.

But everyone could soon relax.

In 87 minutes McTominay settled the nerves with a left-foot finish from close range after Lyndon Dykes did well to head the ball into his path.

McTominay then made it 3-0 with another calm finish to put the gloss on the victory.

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Cyprus were reduced to ten men in stoppage time when Nicholas Ioannou was sent off for dissent with the home fans soon saluting a big three points as the team did a lap of honour around the Hampden pitch.

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