Peru 2-0 Scotland: Solace and no disgrace despite defeat in Lima

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Highlights: Peru 2-0 Scotland

This much-maligned end-of-season trip began with the defeat most outside of the Scotland camp itself predicted.

But the nature of the 2-0 loss to Peru was not necessarily as easy to predict as Alex McLeish's inexperienced side emerged with some credit from a tough environment.

Rarely, if ever, will seven international debuts have been dished out by a Scotland manager in one match.

A two-goal defeat by a team riding the crest of a wave that will transport them to their first World Cup since 1982 is no disgrace.

The Peru team was ultra-experienced and, in the continuing absence of the suspended captain and talisman Paulo Guerrero, close to the side that will line up against Denmark in their World Cup opener on 16 June in the Mordovia Arena in the Russian city of Saransk.

Their understanding, particularly among the front four, was immediately evident as they danced around Scottish defenders, playing intricate passes in Scotland's final third.

But, to the Scots' credit, they quickly got to grips with that and limited the buoyant Peruvians to a couple of hopeful shots from distance.

Scotland's Lewis Stevenson chases Peru's Luis Advincula
Debutant Lewis Stevenson (left) is unlikely to fill the left-back role in the long-term

Lewis Stevenson, a leftfield call-up whose presence in Peru underlines just how deep McLeish has had to dig to put this squad together, saw plenty of the ball early on.

With Kieran Tierney, Andrew Robertson and Barry Douglas ahead of him in the queue for the left-back spot, Stevenson knows his chances of adding to this solitary cap are negligible.

And yet the Hibernian 30-year-old acquitted himself admirably despite the menace posed variously by Edison Flores, Andre Carrillo and the marauding right-back, Luis Advincula.

On the other flank was the even less experienced Stephen O'Donnell - one of the shining lights of Kilmarnock's fine season. Like Stevenson, he looked composed in possession, but the opening goal came from a move down the Peruvian left.

O'Donnell was further up the park when a long ball was played down the channel, forcing Charlie Mulgrew to track Jefferson Farfan across to the edge of the box.

Another debutant, Jordan Archer, felt the need to rush from his goal to aid his captain and the two got in a fankle that ultimately led to Peru's opening goal from the penalty spot.

The Millwall goalkeeper had looked comfortable until that point but rarely did so afterwards and could not have been pleased with the manner in which Farfan's shot early in the second half squirmed away from him and into the net.

Peru's Christian Cueva celebrates after opening the scoring against Scotland
Jordan Archer was beaten twice in Lima as he earned a nervous first cap in goal

One hopes he will recover from a difficult international debut, but with the uncapped Scott Bain and Jon McLaughlin looking to make an impression in Mexico with a view to putting pressure on Allan McGregor and Craig Gordon for the number one slot, Archer's chances of adding to his first cap must have been dented.

Of the four uncapped players who started the match, Hibs' Dylan McGeouch was the one who perhaps did himself most favours.

Although he felt afterwards as if he didn't get on the ball to influence the game enough, he was a calm presence alongside the impressive young Manchester United midfielder, Scott McTominay, himself only winning his second cap.

Both players have the unflappable quality to take care of the ball and not to get flustered when receiving it under pressure.

On the rare occasion Scotland looked like posing a threat, either of those two - if not both - were generally involved.

And both covered plenty of ground to deny Peru easy space, particularly in the first half, when the game's tempo was at its highest.

As McLeish acknowledged afterwards, though, Scotland did not show sufficient creativity to hurt the hosts. No shots on target is a damning statistic in that regard.

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Peru 2-0 Scotland: Hibs' Dylan McGeouch just delighted to make debut

The Scots couldn't lay a glove on their opponents and perhaps it was this aspect of the performance that suffered most from the absence of key personnel.

Would Callum McGregor's energy and eye for goal, Stuart Armstrong's ability to glide past challenges and get a shot away, Andrew Robertson's or Kieran Tierney's boundless desire to get up and down the left flank have made a difference? Possibly. Probably.

Maybe not enough to change the overall result, but Scotland's talent pool is not sufficiently deep to be able to deal with such absences without it being keenly felt.

Alex McLeish knows this. But, in pulling together the squad he has and organising them into a team that, but for two mistakes, proved a decent match for the team ranked 11th in the world, he will take solace and perhaps satisfaction.

This was a trip handed to the manager as a fait accompli and he's had to deal with that, which he has with good grace.

If he can get through the Mexico game unscathed, having learned a little more about this group of players, the trip may even have proved worthwhile.

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