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Scotland’s high-tempo approach was the vital element in a comprehensive victory in Lithuania, according to manager Gordon Strachan.
A 3-0 win lifts the Scots to third place in World Cup qualifying Group F, four points behind Slovakia in second.
“We have got technical ability but the main objective was to use our energy,” said Strachan.
“The team has changed dramatically in the last 18 months. That energy blew Lithuania away.”
Scotland created several good openings before Stuart Armstrong headed in the opening goal from a Leigh Griffiths corner on 25 minutes.
Full-back Andy Robertson curled in a fantastic strike soon after and James McArthur completed the scoring in the second half.
With three matches remaining, Strachan’s side are at home to Malta on Monday and will hope Slovakia drop points on their visit to group leaders England to open up the race for a play-off spot.
“It’s getting close to a nice, exciting finish to the group stage,” said Strachan. “A couple of months ago we didn’t see that.
“Just through the hard work of the players we’ve got back here.”
After a sluggish start to the campaign that included a home draw with Lithuania last year, Scotland have taken seven points from a possible nine to rekindle hopes of reaching a first major finals since 1998.
Asked if the win in Vilnius was the best of his near-five years in charge of the national team, Strachan replied: “In pure footballing terms, I think so.
“We’ve had gritty performances that we all remember against Germany, Croatia and England.
“Slovakia came here and only won 2-1, Slovenia drew 2-2.
“The fact at one point I could become a spectator and enjoy the football, it’s not often you can do that as a manager.
“When we set off on Monday, [I’m asked] do you think we can win? Yes. Do you think we are improving? Yes. Do you think you’re going to have that many attempts on goal? No, not really.
“It was a varied attack. In the past we’ve relied on individuals. It came from different angles. Everybody joined in.”
Robertson caught the eye with a fantastic goal and his crosses from the left, while Armstrong also earned praise from the manager for an industrious display.
Strachan also singled out McArthur, who recovered from a shaky opening period to score the final goal of the evening.
“I thought one of the stand-out performers was James McArthur,” explained Strachan. “The first 15 minutes you are thinking ooh, you know; and to come back from that and to play as well as he did – that’s mental strength.
“We can all take for granted how well Scott Brown and Matt Phillips played but to start, maybe not that great, lets say, and to come back like that is great.
“His mates looked after him at that point, then he gave it back near the end and he gets the third goal with his energy.”
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