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Naismith inspires hope for Scotland as Alex McLeish earns second win in charge

Steven Naismith was involved in both goals as Scotland rebounded from their Belgium defeat.

Steven Naismith celebrates scoring for Scotland.
Steven Naismith celebrates scoring for Scotland.

A MUCH-IMPROVED Scotland made a bright start to their Nations League campaign with a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Albania in Glasgow on Monday.

Steven Naismith atoned for a poor first-half miss to play a prominent part in both goals and give Alex McLeish his second victory since returning to the post in February.

The Hearts striker will contest the credit for Berat Djimsiti’s own-goal opener in the 47th minute but there was no doubt over the second he later headed home to cap his country’s confident response to last week’s 4-0 humbling against Belgium.

His goals mean McLeish’s men have ended a run of three matches without scoring on home soil and, more importantly, join their opponents on three points at the top of Group 1 in League C.

Scotland v Albania - UEFA Nations League - League C - Group One - Hampden Park Scotland manager Alex Mcleish Source: Ian Rutherford

Scotland, evidently stimulated by their Belgium embarrassment, were full of endeavour in the early exchanges, swarming forward to Albania’s consistent anxiety.

All that was missing was the reward for effort Naismith remarkably failed to provide when he nodded against the post at point-blank range in the 24th minute, Charlie Mulgrew having climbed to knock down a free-kick.

Redemption initially came with a slice of fortune as the assistant referee failed to spot the 31-year-old straying marginally offside at the far post before heading substitute Stuart Armstrong’s cross in off the unknowing Djimsiti.

Bekim Balaj squandered two opportunities to restore parity but, unlike for his fellow striker, there was to be no reprieve as Naismith instead sealed the result with 22 minutes to play, punishing Thomas Strakosha for flapping at a routine corner.

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