ON a hugely disappointing night for Scotland on Friday, there were at least positives to be drawn from the way they started the game and the way they ended it. It’s just a shame what happened in between.

One of the key figures in Scotland’s strong finish as they looked to claw Russia back was Ryan Christie, with the introduction of the Celtic attacker bringing new life to a side who had looked dead and buried.

Alas, the revival was to prove too little, too late, but Christie hopes that while his cameo didn’t produce a tangible reward on the scoreboard, it might have played him into the starting line-up for tonight’s clash with the world’s number one side at Hampden.

And he says he isn’t the only one who will have a point to prove against the Belgians.

“It was good,” Christie said. “It was frustrating not to come on and get onto the scoresheet as that was my aim. I wanted to get us back in the game.

“The game was opening up towards the end and I managed to find a bit of space. I wanted to get closer to Oli (McBurnie) and help him out. I think towards the end of the game we showed we were as good as Russia but by then the damage had been done.

“The manager said to me when I came on to try and make something happen. I felt we came back into the game for the last ten minutes and we really pushed Russia.

“If we had got an equaliser early on then maybe we would have had a chance. We showed glimpses of good stuff but at international level you need to play very well for 90 minutes.

“I’ve no idea if I’ve played myself into contention. I’d be delighted if I play. I’m delighted every time I play for Scotland so we will have to wait and see.

“But I think we’ve got a lot of talent throughout the squad so everyone will be champing at the bit to get in and prove a point.”

If any supporters think that losses such as the one on Friday evening don’t hurt the players as much as it hurts them, they would only be required to have seen Christie after the match to have a major rethink. The attacker was visibly emotional in the bowels of Hampden as the nation’s faint hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2020 were all-but extinguished.

The most frustrating thing of all was that he couldn’t explain why the players had failed to adhere to manager Steve Clarke’s gameplan after going a goal up, nor could he explain just why a team packed with so many technically gifted footballers failed so miserably to keep the ball.

“It was pretty disappointing because we started the game exactly how we wanted by taking the game to Russia and managing to get the early goal,” he said. “It was frustrating that we dropped off after that and let them back into the game.

“It was mentioned at half time but then they got the second goal and after that it was too late. I can’t explain why we dropped off. We maybe just stopped having that composure on the ball. But it’s hard, it’s international football and if you don’t keep the ball for extended periods of possession then your opponents - no matter what international team - are going to hurt you.

“I think big Oli up front played well given how isolated he was up there for periods of the game. I think that was the main issue. Once Russia got into the game, we needed to keep possession and try to hold them at bay.

“The manager’s message afterwards was to tell us what we needed to do better and that is keep the ball for longer periods of time. We needed to hide the ball from them when we were a goal up. The players all know that if you give the ball away cheaply, you’ll get hurt at this level.

“That’s what makes the result even more gutting - we had such a good feeling going into the game and it was frustrating not to get a result.

“It’s very emotional, we are all devastated right now but we will focus on Monday’s game.”