Scotland’s win at home against Moldova was their first in five games, taking them up to third in their World Cup qualifying group as rivals for second place Austria lost in Israel.
Sounds like a good night’s work, so why all the pessimism?
Pre-match, Scotland boss Steve Clarke asked for his side to “be on the front foot, be positive and get the goals needed to win”.
The head coach got his wish, but it could have been so much more comfortable for the hosts against the world’s 175th-ranked nation after a flurry of clear-cut chances were squandered.
With a large crowd roaring the Scots on at Hampden, the hosts got off to a flying start and a routine win looked inevitable when Lyndon Dykes tapped in a 14th-minute opener.
But Scotland failed to convert several guilt-edged opportunities that followed, setting up a tense finish against the Moldovan minnows.
Out of Scotland’s 16 efforts on Saturday, 10 of them were taken from inside the box. But ultimately, they only had one goal to show for it.
“You always need the second goal to stop that nervy last five minutes, but if you keep clean sheets you win games,” Clarke said post-match.
While the Scotland manager seemed settled with a single strike being enough to secure the points, former Scotland midfielder Stuart McCall feels it was “hugely disappointing” to pass up a string of openings.
“Speaking as an ex-manager, you can’t do any more,” McCall said on BBC Sportsound. “It could’ve been an easier night. Over the piece we’ve had five excellent chances that we’ve not taken.
“You thought another goal and they’d cave in, but it didn’t materialise and that’s down to poor finishing. They weren’t even half chances.”
For a nation that gave us Dennis Law and Kenny Dalglish, Scotland’s is one of the worst countries in Europe when it comes to converting chances into goals.
In their last five fixtures, three games at Euro 2020 and World Cup qualifiers against Denmark and Moldova, Scotland have scored just two goals from 62 attempts on goal..
In fact, out of all 19 European nations to play at least 10 games in 2021, Clarke’s side have the fifth lowest conversion rate.
In the 10 matches Scotland have played this year, they have racked up a total of 123 shots – an average of 12.3 per game.