Naismith: Scots are more confident
Forward Steven Naismith feels Scotland have reaped the benefit of getting their flair players up the park in an encouraging finale to their otherwise disappointing World Cup campaign.
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Scotland secured fourth place in Group A with a 2-0 home win over Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday night, their third victory from the last four games in the section.
14. Steven Naismith
Scotland had only taken two points from the opening six games in a start that saw Craig Levein lose his job but his replacement as manager, Gordon Strachan, has instigated noticeable improvement with two wins over Croatia and a victory in Macedonia offering hope for their Euro 2016 campaign.
Naismith, who scored the second goal when he followed up Barry Bannan's saved penalty, filled the lone striker role but was not isolated at all against a team ranked 10th in the world.
Robert Snodgrass played high up in midfield and headed the opener before hitting the post, Bannan and Ikechi Anya proved good attacking options, Scott Brown and James Morrison both got shots on target, and left-back Charlie Mulgrew set up the opener while right-back Alan Hutton continued to get forward.
Naismith said: "We have taken giant steps forward. We are more confident, we are going at teams, we are not sitting in and trying to nick a 1-0.
"That's been the biggest change, being a bit more expansive.
"We have got quality midfielders and forward players and we can hurt teams.
"That's what we have got to use more and we have definitely utilised that in the last few games.
"We have not only got good players but we have got good athletes as well.
"We can get boys behind the ball and defend when we need to but when we are going forward we have lots of numbers and we hurt teams with that, and we have shown in the latter part of this campaign that we can challenge.
"But it's all good and well saying this now, we have definitely got to do it in the next campaign."
Naismith's goal was his third international strike following previous efforts against Spain and Lithuania.
The Everton player said: "Before the goal it was a special night because I have been given the chance to get 25 caps for my country.
"The goal is just a bonus on top of a fantastic performance from the team, defensively and going forward."