RYAN Christie was savouring his long-awaited first goal for Scotland last night – a month after he was robbed of his big moment by the slightest of touches from John McGinn during the rout against San Marino.

The Celtic attacking midfielder pressed his credentials to be a regular starter for his country when he curled in the sweet 12th minute strike from 20 yards which gave Scotland an early lead, just minutes after a Giorgos Efrem effort had been wrongly adjudged by referee Harald Lechner not to have crossed the line as it bounced down from the crossbar.

Considering he has 13 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions already this season, Christie might have expected to have broken his international duck before now, but after his low goal-bound shot was converted in by McGinn against the minnows, this was one goal that no-one can take away from him.

"I was delighted to score,” said Christie. “It's something I've been desperate to do every time I've played for Scotland. It's taken longer than I wanted but it was nice to get it in an away win.”

Goalkeeper David Marshall, meanwhile, knew Scotland had won a watch when the Austrian referee failed to notice that Efrem’s shot had bounced on the other side of the line. Unlike league matches in England, international referees do not wear watches which use goal-line technology to alert them when a goal is scored, and for that Scotland and their goalkeeper yesterday were truly thankful. “I must admit I thought they’d scored when the ball dropped,” said Marshall. “But then I guessed the ref had the watch on so when he never gave it, I assumed it wasn’t in. In the Championship they have the watches that tell them straight away if it’s crossed the line but I don’t think he had one.

“It was nice to get one to go for us this time but the one they did score was an unbelievable strike,” added the goalkeeper. “It was in as soon as he hit it. It was a waste of time diving, to be honest. It was good to get a break though.”

While it was tough going at times for a re-shaped central defensive pairing of Scott McKenna and Declan Gallagher, Marshall praised the way the new look defence ground out the win. “It was hard for the new guys, like Declan making his first start,” said Marshall. “It’s about getting experience so it’s going to be like that. The more games we have together the better we will be.

“It was difficult for lads but I thought they handled it really well,” he added. “We don’t have many games until the play-offs but this was another one that will help. There’s a different attitude and mindset now. Let’s go in to Tuesday and make it three wins in a row against Kazakhstan. It’s a helluva long wait to March but we’ll feel a lot better on the back of another win.

“We got the job done. They scored a worldie early in the second half but we spoke before about reacting to when we concede goals. There’s been games where we’ve conceded after playing well but we handled it much better tonight. The timing of John’s goal helped us a lot. It was a well-worked goal and it gave us a bit if belief. We weren’t really used to the heat but at least we had the lead to hold on to. It was a tough game but we managed to get there in the end.

Scotland’s other goal hero John McGinn admitted it wasn’t the national team’s prettiest win, but made a virtue out of the resilience they displayed to grind out a result. "There were a lot of new faces in the squad and that's a game we might have drawn or even lost in recent times,” said McGinn. "It's important we get the winning mentality, even though it wasn't pretty near the end. It's important to try and build towards March. It's a win, a step forward and hopefully we'll do the same on Tuesday.”

This was McGinn’s fifth goal in five games for his country. “Trying to arrive in the box late is something I've been working on,” the Aston Villa player said. “It was a great ball by Greg Taylor and all I had to do was keep it low. All everybody wants is Scotland at a national tournament and hopefully we can carry this into March."