IT was revenge. And it was most definitely served cold. Scotland’s Kazakh curse seemed like it was coming back with a vengeance as Steve Clarke's men trailed at half time and were jeered off the field. But on a freezing night at Hampden Park, a measure of recompense for the most embarrassing result in the nation’s history eventually arrived. What did we learn on a night where Scotland made it a hat-trick of wins for the first time in two years?


PLAYING up front isn’t all about scoring goals, as Steve Clarke made sure to point out. While Scotland’s new look striking duo didn’t always win a huge amount of style points, they still exemplified this maxim last night, each having a hand in a goal for the other.

Once again the lion’s share of goalscorer’s glory went to John McGinn, the Aston Villa midfielder confirming his emergence by banging in a brace which took his tally to seven goals in six international games.

READ MORE: John McGinn: I'm so convinced we'll make it to the Euros that I haven't booked a holiday next summer

We were in a spot of bother here before the first one came along, from a free-kick on the edge of the box which took a deflection off Kazakh captain Bauyrzhan Islamkhan on its way into the middle of the goal. Naismith was the architect, using all his experience to buy the free-kick then using his body position to stop the attempted block.

On a night his one-time rival Leigh Griffiths knocked in a few for Celtic’s reserves in a friendly against Stenhousemuir, Naismith was delighted to be back amongst the goals at this level as he met a looping, deflected ball from Liam Palmer from all of an inch out. McGinn’s assist of sorts came in the manner he got his body in the way of goalkeeper Dymtro Nepogodov to prevent him getting a clear jump on the ball. The Hearts man’s influence is already rubbing off but he had gone off by the time McGinn’s second of the night – and his seventh goal of the campaign – arrived. The Aston Villa man looked like a penalty box poacher as he ran on to Taylor’s slide rule delivery to finish well.


It is hard to maintain momentum when you know you are facing a four-month lay-off but our first hat-trick of competitive wins since the late Gordon Strachan era has done just that. A campaign which ended badly has finished well. And while have Alex McLeish to thank for our play-off spot, Clarke is doing his bit to make it seem more achievable. Friday's draw will decide whether it is Bulgaria, Romania or Israel we will face in a home play-off semi-final, then hopefully a one-off meeting against Norway or Serbia to make our hosting of matches at Euro 2020 a tad more interesting. There were only 19,500 here last night seeking respite perhaps from the televised election debate but this place will be rocking in march.


SHOCK horror: Scotland manager names unchanged team. When Clarke opted to start the match with the same eleven men he went with at the GSP stadium in Nicosia on Saturday, it was something of a statement. Okay so captain Andy Robertson will surely be preferred to Greg Taylor at left back assuming he is fit to return after injury, but the route suddenly doesn’t seem quite so easy for some of Scotland’s other English-based superstars.

READ MORE: Scotland 3 Kazakhstan 1: John McGinn double helps Steve Clarke's men finish campaign on a high

As excellent as Scott McTominay’s form pre-injury form was for Manchester United, would it disrupt the balance if you shoe-horn him back into things at the expense of Ryan Jack? The same goes for Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney - while he could come in at left centre back for Scott McKenna, that would be risky as Clarke has never worked with him. Then there is Ryan Fraser of Bournemouth, no gimme to take over from James Forrest on the left flank.


For a while last night, while most of his team were playing their way into Steve Clarke’s plans for that play-off match, Scott McKenna looked like he was playing his way out of them. While Liam Palmer was culpable for frittering away possession, the Aberdeen defender again looked short of confidence when asked to deal with the onrushing Zainutdinov. Perhaps wary of giving away a soft free-kick, he decided against going out to block the shot, only to see the man who scored the third goal against us in Nursultan hit the corner with a beauty from 25 yards. More than anyone perhaps, the big defender needed a big second half and he produced – winning a few meaty challenges, reading the game well, and keeping things simple in possession.


It has been a week where the old club versus country debate has rumbled on and at points last night Steven Gerrard and Neil Lennon must have been watching this from behind their couch. First James Forrest was left wincing after being on the receiving end of a cynical tackle from Aibol Abiken then Ryan Jack got a shocker from sub Islambek Kuat which could easily have led to a red card. Thankfully, both men were able to continue.