Scotland 3 Northern Ireland 0
SCOTLAND – including Pool’s Charlie Adam – began their Carling Nations Cup campaign in impressive style by trouncing Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Striker Kenny Miller celebrated wearing the armband for the first time by putting the Scots ahead from close range before James McArthur, a late replacement for Scott Brown, who was injured in the warm up, scored his first international goal with a chip that might have been intended as a cross.
Kris Commons sealed the win six minutes after the break for Craig Levein’s side, who played at times with untypical fluidity and flair and who probably deserved to have increased the margin of their victory.
However, Northern Ireland’s haplessness must be taken into consideration. This comprehensive defeat must have been a demoralising experience for manager Nigel Worthington, who was working with more meagre than usual resources given the 10 call-offs from his original squad, including one late withdrawal, George McCartney, who had apparently quit international football.
Levein was also forced to change his plans when Brown had to be replaced by Wigan midfielder McArthur.
The Celtic skipper’s enforced withdrawal resonated all the more given that his club manager Neil Lennon, with one eye on a heavy domestic workload, had questioned the timing of the fixture earlier in the week.
However, that is an issue for another day.
This was a night of positivity for the Scots.