Scotland 0-1 Costa Rica: Jose Mourinho watches Scott McTominay in defeat

The names and the faces might change, but for Scotland old failings could take a little time to fix.

It’s now two years since the national team last won a friendly international at Hampden.

In a stirring pre-match appeal Alex McLeish urged the national side, John Smeaton-style, to ‘set about’ Costa Rica. 

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay was handed his Scotland senior debut for the friendly against Costa Rica

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay was handed his Scotland senior debut for the friendly against Costa Rica

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay was handed his Scotland senior debut for the friendly against Costa Rica

His Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat alongside former Scotland boss Craig Brown and Malky Mackay for the tie

His Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat alongside former Scotland boss Craig Brown and Malky Mackay for the tie

His Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat alongside former Scotland boss Craig Brown and Malky Mackay for the tie

But it was the South American visitors who celebrated inside Hampden when striker Marco Urena slotted home with aplomb

But it was the South American visitors who celebrated inside Hampden when striker Marco Urena slotted home with aplomb

But it was the South American visitors who celebrated inside Hampden when striker Marco Urena slotted home with aplomb

Costa Rica are boosting their World Cup preparations as they were placed in a group including five-time winners Brazil

Costa Rica are boosting their World Cup preparations as they were placed in a group including five-time winners Brazil

Costa Rica are boosting their World Cup preparations as they were placed in a group including five-time winners Brazil

The defeat for the much-changed Scotland side marks a disappointing start for Alex McLeish in his first game back in charge

The defeat for the much-changed Scotland side marks a disappointing start for Alex McLeish in his first game back in charge

The defeat for the much-changed Scotland side marks a disappointing start for Alex McLeish in his first game back in charge

By the end of an uninspiring 90 minutes, the new era had begun much as the old one ended. In an underwhelming performance and result.

Costa Rica are six places higher than Scotland in the FIFA rankings for a reason.

Preparing for their fourth World Cup finals since 2002 the Central Americans are an established unit at this level.

In contrast the Scots looked what they were. A new team playing under a new manager.

The second leg of a double header takes place against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday night.

With six months and four games to prepare for the first Nations League qualifier against Albania, familiarisation remains the name of the game.

Before a sparse crowd of 20,488 the second coming of McLeish began inauspiciously.

The loss of a goal after just 14 minutes brought an early reality check. And, ultimately, a defeat. 

McTominay's decision to select Scotland ahead of England was heralded by McLeish and it was a show of faith to start him

McTominay's decision to select Scotland ahead of England was heralded by McLeish and it was a show of faith to start him

McTominay’s decision to select Scotland ahead of England was heralded by McLeish and it was a show of faith to start him

He was given 58 minutes before being withdrawn as part of a double change by his manager following an encouraging debut

He was given 58 minutes before being withdrawn as part of a double change by his manager following an encouraging debut

He was given 58 minutes before being withdrawn as part of a double change by his manager following an encouraging debut

Scotland’s new era began inauspiciously. The loss of a goal after 14 minutes brought an early reality check.

Oscar Ramirez was in the Los Ticos side which recorded an infamous win over the Scots at Italia 90.

Quarter-finalists in Brazil four years ago, Costa Rica return to the finals in a little over three months’ time, Ramirez using this game to pick the team he expects to start against Serbia in the Russian city of Samara on June 17.

It paid dividends when Marcos Urena strode on to a low, firm cutback from the byeline from Sunderland’s Bryan Oviedo and stroked the ball calmly into the bottom left-hand corner of Allan McGregor’s net.

Scotland could, probably should, have replied quickly. Callum Paterson found space in a crowded area to nod Matt Ritchie’s corner past the right-hand post of Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas.

An equaliser then might have aided the bonding process for a team playing together for the first time, debutants sprinkled throughout a 3-4-3 formation which, for obvious reasons, lacked understanding or cohesion. 

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE

SCOTLAND: (5-4-1) McGregor; Paterson, Hanley, Mulgrew (McGinn 82), McKenna, Robertson; Ritchie (Murphy 87), McTominay (Armstrong 58), McDonald, Cairney (McGregor 58); McBurnie (Phillips 77)

SUBS NOT USED: Archer, Christie, Forrest, Douglas, McLaughlin, Cummings, McLean, Fraser, Hendry

GOALS: NONE

BOOKINGS: NONE

COACH: Alex McLeish

COSTA RICA: (5-4-1) Navas; Gamboa (Smith 75), Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte, Oviedo (Calvo 78); B Ruiz, Borges, Guzman (Tejeda 56), Colindres (Wallace 64); Urena (Y Ruiz 69)

SUBS NOT USED: Segura, Mitchell, Azofeifa, Briceno, Waston, Gutierrez, Moreira

GOALS: Urena (14)

BOOKINGS: Guzman

COACH: Oscar Ramirez

REFEREE: Tobias Stieler

VENUE: Hampden Park

Scotland defender Charlie Mulgrew conceded possession and a smart move down the left by Costa Rica set Marcos Urena free to smartly finish in the area. CLICK HERE to see more from Sportsmail's brilliant MATCH ZONE feature.

Scotland defender Charlie Mulgrew conceded possession and a smart move down the left by Costa Rica set Marcos Urena free to smartly finish in the area. CLICK HERE to see more from Sportsmail's brilliant MATCH ZONE feature.

Scotland defender Charlie Mulgrew conceded possession and a smart move down the left by Costa Rica set Marcos Urena free to smartly finish in the area. CLICK HERE to see more from Sportsmail’s brilliant MATCH ZONE feature.

Standing in the Hampden tunnel before kick-off, new captain Charlie Mulgrew led the line-up, goalkeeper McGregor and Grant Hanley behind him.

As the Sky camera moved down the line, the faces became less familiar.

A new campaign and a new manager inevitably begins with a call for change. The Tartan Army could have no complaints on that score

Oli McBurnie started up front, Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna found a slot in defence, Kevin McDonald anchored the midfield alongside Fulham team-mate Tom Cairney.

Most of the intrigue surrounded Scott McTominay, the Manchester United midfielder who raised eyebrows by choosing Scotland over England after a determined pursuit by McLeish.

High in the South Stand at Hampden, Jose Mourinho sat jammed between Malky Mackay and Craig Brown. The Manchester United manager thinks McTominay is worth the effort. There will be bigger and more important games than this to pass judgment.

In his days as Scotland manager, Brown — a renowned stickler for sartorial elegance — might have disapproved of McBurnie’s socks flapping low around his shins. 

The Barnsley striker, on loan at Swansea, is the very definition of wiry. At times he is ungainly and unconventional.  

Young striker Oli McBurnie was another handed a valuable opportunity on Friday as he was promoted from the U21 side 

Young striker Oli McBurnie was another handed a valuable opportunity on Friday as he was promoted from the U21 side 

Young striker Oli McBurnie was another handed a valuable opportunity on Friday as he was promoted from the U21 side 

The Swansea striker, currently on loan at Barnsley, looked lively as he looked to find the equalising goal which proved elusive

The Swansea striker, currently on loan at Barnsley, looked lively as he looked to find the equalising goal which proved elusive

The Swansea striker, currently on loan at Barnsley, looked lively as he looked to find the equalising goal which proved elusive

Yet he was the first of the new boys to make an impression, rousing a crowd of just over 20,000 from the stupor which followed Costa Rica’s opener in 27 minutes by making space for a firmly struck right-foot shot from 16 yards, Navas throwing himself low to parry.

McBurnie was unable to reach an enticing Andy Robertson low ball across the face of goal.

Strong claims for a penalty from Cairney were misplaced. And for Scotland’s new-look team that was pretty much it in the first half.

The half-time stats showed why. Rated a generous 13/5 by bookmakers pre-match, Costa Rica enjoyed 58 per cent of the possession.

Seeing more of the ball would be the key to any Scotland comeback.

The very prospect was almost snuffed out three minutes into the second period.

A swift breakaway from the visitors exposed Scottish frailties in defence, Sporting Lisbon’s Bryan Ruiz turning Robertson on the byeline and cutting inside to whip a curling strike off the face of the crossbar. McGregor was beaten. Had that gone in, so were Scotland.

McLeish will have learned plenty about his young charges against a Costa Rica side that do boast some solid pedigree 

McLeish will have learned plenty about his young charges against a Costa Rica side that do boast some solid pedigree 

McLeish will have learned plenty about his young charges against a Costa Rica side that do boast some solid pedigree 

Frustration was palpable for the Scots as Callum Paterson unleashed his anger at a spurned opportunity in the first half

Frustration was palpable for the Scots as Callum Paterson unleashed his anger at a spurned opportunity in the first half

Frustration was palpable for the Scots as Callum Paterson unleashed his anger at a spurned opportunity in the first half

McTominay’s debut lasted 57 minutes. Part of a double change, which also witnessed the exit of Cairney, the Celtic duo of Callum McGregor and Stuart Armstrong gave the Scots a more recognisable look and the cutting edge they needed to make an impact.

McGregor did his best. With 65 minutes played, McBurnie used his upper body strength to roll defender Giancarlo Gonzalez in midfield, and create space for the Celtic player.

He put a weighted pass into the path of Ritchie, whose left-foot shot finally forced Navas into his first save of the second half.

The howls of anguish from a sparse home crowd intensified moments later when McBurnie failed to connect with an inviting low centre from the overlapping Robertson.

It was the kind of opportunity Leigh Griffiths might have gobbled up, but the debutant striker showed enough here to suggest he deserves a future at this level. Yet the lack of a goalscorer remains the most glaring problem for McLeish. And the hardest one to fix.

 

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