NOT since Kevin Gallacher ran riot during France ’98 qualifying can a Scotland player have enjoyed a vein of goalscoring form as rich as the one that John McGinn is currently experiencing.

Steve Clarke, whose team won the first match of their Qatar 2022 campaign last night thanks in no small part to McGinn’s double, will be hoping it continues when Group F resumes in September and helps produce the same final outcome.

The Aston Villa midfielder scored in each half of the meeting with the Faroe Islands - who proved, as Clarke had warned the day before, to be far more redoubtable opponents than many had anticipated – at Hampden.

The brace took the 26-year-old’s tally for his country to 10 – but he has now netted three times in as many matches and has been on target on no fewer than nine occasions in his last 14 international appearances.

The 26-year-old, who had salvaged a draw against Austria last Thursday night with a spectacular late overhead kick, was Scotland’s top scorer during their bid to reach the Euro 2020 finals with seven strikes. He is already well on course to finish their leading marksman this time around.

Arsenal left back Kieran Tierney, playing on the left side of a back three again, provided both of the assists for his compatriot and then teed up Che Adams for his first international goal in the second-half as well.

Outside him, Andy Robertson, who had been criticised for his display in the 1-1 draw with Israel in Tel Aviv on Sunday, supplied the final ball for Ryan Fraser to head home the fourth and his second in two matches. The Newcastle United man, deployed as a wing back last night, pitched in with the equaliser at the weekend.

Scotland’s next competitive game will be far more intense and demanding than this runout was; they will play the Czech Republic at Hampden in June in their first match of the Euro 2020 finals.

Still, this professional display and comfortable triumph will have pleased Clarke enormously and will have raised both the morale and confidence of his charges no end. They are now second in their section.  

The national manager had indicated pre-match that he would still field a strong starting line-up and he was true to his word; Grant Hanley, McGinn, Scott McTominay, Tierney and Robertson and all start their third games of the international break.

The Scotland line-up and formation was a surprise. The national team had performed far better in on Sunday when they had switched from a 3-5-1-1 to a 4-2-3-1 at half-time. Clarke had been expected to continue his experiment with the new system. Instead, he reverted to three centre backs and two wing backs.

McTominay dropped back into defence and Kenny McLean came in alongside Callum McGregor and McGinn in midfield. Fraser took over from Stephen O’Donnell out wide and Adams partnered Lyndon Dykes in a two man strike force.

The visitors were limited – they are in 107th place in the FIFA World Rankings - but keeping faith with the formation that had worked so well in the Euro 2020 play-offs last year seemed to the Scotland players’ liking.

Fraser got a shot on target after just 35 seconds and they took the lead in the seventh minute following a well-worked move involving McLean, McGregor and Tierney. The latter, who was once again outstanding, cut the ball back to McGinn who turned a first time left foot shot into the bottom right corner.

The Faroes, however, were unfortunate not to level in the 15th minute when the Helsingborg player to Brandur Hendriksson Olsen was given time and space by McTominay to get a long-range shot on target. The same player had been guilty of the same offence against Israel and Dor Peretz had taken advantage.

Fortunately for the Manchester United man, Craig Gordon, who had replaced David Marshall in goals, was alert and produced a wonderful fingertip save to keep the home team in front. But it was a timely reminder that nothing could be taken for granted by the hosts.

Sonne Hattestad, the 6ft 6in Dundalk centre half, was spoken to by match official Trustin Farrugia Cann for barging over Tierney at the resultant corner. The defender and his team mates had clearly no intention of being pushovers themselves. 

Adams got a head on an Andy Robertson free-kick and forced a save from Gunnar Nielsen, McTominay nodded just wide after meeting a Fraser cross and Tierney got an effort on target shortly before half-time. But Scotland were just a goal in front when they returned to the changing room. 

They were nearly pegged back just a minute into the second-half when Craig Gordon spilled an innocuous cross from Hallur Hansson at the feet of Joan Edmundsson. The Hearts keeper was lucky his rival couldn’t capitalise on his error.

McGinn was far more clinical seven minutes later when he met a Tierney chip with a powerful downward header to put Scotland  two ahead. Adams also did superbly on the hour mark when he cut inside and drilled beyond Nielsen from fully 25 yards out. And Fraser made no mistake when Robertson supplied him with 20 minutes remaining.

The like of Liam Palmer, Scott McKenna, John Fleck, Oliver McBurnie, Kevin Nisbet, who had all watched 180 minutes of football from the sidelines patiently, were given their chance in the latter stages as Fraser, Tierney, McGregor, Adams and Dykes were removed.