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Did Shankland ace his audition as Gilmour steals the show for Scotland?

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He may be diminutive in stature, but in a stodgy first half, he was head and shoulders above everyone else on the field.

He was always available, ready to take the ball whether he was in yards of space to conduct proceedings, or to take the pressure off a teammate who was in a hole. He was all close control, deft flicks and feints, with complete mastery of the ball and an unerring eye for a pass.

One moment brought audible gasps from the crowd as he killed the ball dead and in one movement, flicked it over the head of an opponent before carrying on his way. It was the display of a level of technical ability that we had long thought a thing of the past in a Scottish player.

When Gilmour burst onto the scene as a youngster at Chelsea via Rangers, the excitement around him was palpable. His career has been more of a slow burner than was expected back then, but after that disastrous loan spell at Norwich, he has finally found his place at Brighton.

And it seems, he has come of age going into these European Championships. It is a thrilling prospect to see how he measures up going toe-to-toe with Toni Kroos and co. next week. One thing’s for sure, he won’t be daunted by the prospect.

Gilmour’s name is certain to be on the teamsheet for Munich, as of course will captain Andy Robertson’s. The skipper made a telling contribution on the night here with the crosses for both of Scotland’s goals. But what of the starry-eyed hopefuls?

Ralston certainly did his chances of pipping Ross McCrorie to the right wing-back role no harm with an accomplished performance, showing a greater willingness to get into the area and looking less tentative than McCrorie did against Gibraltar in Faro.

A more pressing concern given Scotland’s bluntness in attack over the last few friendly outings is how Shankland performed up front, and in the first half, it looked as though his big moment may have been passing him by.

It wasn’t his first opportunity either. Having played fairly well against Gibraltar without pulling up any trees, and without ever threatening to find the net, it was something of a surprise to see him line up from the start again here ahead of Che Adams, who scored a thumping volley in Faro.

The presumption is that Clarke is likely wrapping the one real established international striker he has left in cotton wool to start against Germany, but whatever the reasoning, it afforded Shankland another chance to show the national team head coach what he could do.

Trouble was, in the first half at least, a chance was nigh on impossible for him to come by.

The Hearts forward huffed and puffed and certainly tried to put himself about, but a series of crosses came and went without him getting anywhere close, and when he did get a couple of half-sights of goal, he prodded a tentative half volley over the bar from range and then saw a shot blocked after he dallied a little too long in the area.

That led the half-time conversation around Hampden to consist of the odd mump and moan, and a debate over whether Shankland could really cut it at this level. At last, he came up with an answer.

Robertson had already got in well down the left to centre for Hoskonen to slice into his own net, when the Scotland captain again picked up the ball in a good position to spot Shankland’s movement at the back stick.

He swung a ball towards him, and Shankland showed good strength and a clever feint to get away from his man and bury a header beyond Jesse Joronen.

Alas, a start in Germany next Friday may well be beyond him. For all that Shankland has showed he can offer a threat, Adams is surely the safer bet.

There were a couple of early curtain calls before the night was out, and an unwelcome twist in the tale too. First Gilmour took his leave to rapturous applause, before Hampden rose as one to hail Craig Gordon’s arrival on the pitch for his country for the 75th, and perhaps the last, time.

It looks as though Gordon is going to be one of the unlucky men left behind when the team departs Glasgow this Sunday, and the reception he received from the crowd was an acknowledgment of both that, and what an exceptional servant he has been for Scotland down the years.

Sadly, if this is to be his final game, then it ended on a little bit of a downer.

First, Grant Hanley was caught ball-watching to allow Robin Lod to nod home, before Gordon came out to contest a cross with Tomas Galves. The keeper got to the ball first, but only just, and referee Lukasz Kurma deemed his slight touch irrelevant after he followed through and clattered the Finn.

The penalty was awarded, and Oliver Antman proved anything but a Hampden superhero as he took the edge off what had built to a jubilant atmosphere at the national stadium by tucking away from 12 yards.

Another young understudy, Tommy Conway thought he had a glory moment on his debut, only to see his header at the last saved brilliantly by substitute goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky. 

Still, it isn’t opening night just yet. There was bound to be the odd fluffed line. With the likes of Gilmour in the ranks though, Scotland may just get it right on the night after all.

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