Strachan's Scots off to a flyer

Scotland's players celebrate their opening goal, scored by Charlie Mulgrew, against Estonia

Scotland's players celebrate their opening goal, scored by Charlie Mulgrew, against Estonia

First published in National Sport News © by

Charlie Mulgrew's first goal for Scotland got new boss Gordon Strachan's tenure off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over Estonia at Pittodrie.

Celtic defender Mulgrew got the only goal in the 38th minute at the home of his former club when he fired in from a Charlie Adam free-kick - his first goal in dark blue. Ironically, when he was boss at Celtic, Strachan deemed Mulgrew surplus to requirements during the defender's first stint at Parkhead.

Qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil maybe a forlorn hope - the Scots have two points from four games in their qualifiers - but this will give them optimism ahead of qualifiers against Wales and Serbia next month.

Scotland, who had not lost to Estonia in seven previous encounters, started confidently and in the third minute visiting keeper Sergei Pareiko made a decent save from Shaun Maloney at his near post.

However, with Estonia's first attempt on goal in the ninth minute, Taijo Teniste's arrowed drive from 30 yards was heading for the top corner until Allan McGregor stretched to tip the ball over the bar. Alan Hutton and Chris Burke combined well down the right again in the 20th minute and when the latter stood a ball up at the back post Steven Fletcher headed just over.

Moments later, Maloney picked up the ball and slalomed past Sergei Mosnikov and Igor Morozov but his shot from the edge of the box was parried by Pareiko with Enar Jaager clearing to safety.

Scotland's opener looked as if it had been crafted on the training ground and came when the quick-footed Maloney was fouled outside the box, on the left-hand side, by Morozov. Charlie Adam shaped to curl the free-kick high into the middle but instead knocked it low along the ground to find Mulgrew and the Hoops player fired a left-footed shot past Pareiko from 12 yards.

Jordan Rhodes looked sharp when he came on, firing over from the edge of the box and in the 64th minute a similar effort from Steven Naismith also sailed over. Mulgrew looked keen to double his tally and in the 71st minute his powerful drive from 25 yards was tipped over by Pareiko for a corner, which came to nothing.

The game stuttered in a disjointed way into its final stages, although there was a moment of brief panic among the home fans before Estonia substitute Gert Kams fired wide of the target.

However, the Scots were mostly in control until the final whistle signalled a successful start to Strachan's tenure - although there will be far tougher tests to come, and soon too.

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