Scotland made an ideal start to this year’s UEFA Elite group, as they saw off Montenegro in swashbuckling style at St Mirren Park. How refreshing it was to see a Scotland side playing attractive passing football, and scoring some sensational goals into the bargain.
Scott Gemmill’s side had defeated reigning under-17 champions Portugal in September to qualify for the elite round and be seeded to host Montenegro, Switzerland and Serbia. Based on recent form the young Scots are ranked 6th in Europe at this level, and in Paisley they lived up to their billing in emphatic style.
Ahead of the matches, head coach Scot Gemmill had stressed the importance of the forthcoming games and said: “This is definitely the most important week of the season for the players as they have worked very hard to get themselves into this position.
“A lot of countries don’t manage to get to this stage and it’s important the players realise how important it is.
“Playing at home will be a boost for us. The last time we played an Elite Round in Scotland we qualified so it’s worked in the past.
“This is a great group of players who are playing at a high level at their clubs and they’ve shown they can compete against the best on an international stage so it’s up to us to keep up those high levels of performance.”
After surviving an early scare when their opponents struck the bar, the Scots were 3 up and cruising by half time, their first goal a thunderbolt from Jack Aitchison from the edge of the D on 10 minutes. They never really looked back, with the Celtic striker helping himself to another goal, and Glenn Middleton chipping in with his own second half brace. The two had given the Montenegro defence a torrid night of it, with no answer to their deadly pace and finishing in the final third.
Montenegro were not coping with the threat from early in the first half and it set the platform for wave after wave of Scots attacks. The second goal arrived on 17 minutes as Church got down the left to pick out Zak Rudden in the box to head home from close range.
But there wasn’t much visiting defenders could do about goal number three. After some intricate build up play Seb Ross laid the ball off for Kerr McInroy on the edge of the box and his left foot drive found Vukic’s corner with just half an hour played.