Stark hails team’s patience and tempo

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SCOTLAND Under-21s head coach Billy Stark praised his players for having the patience and tempo to break down Luxembourg after Jordan Rhodes fired a hat-trick to help the Scots to a 5-1 qualifying win.

Scotland dominated from the outset but initially struggled to create chances in the opening quarter.

However, Alex MacDonald’s 29th-minute strike sparked a glut of goals, with Rhodes making it 3-0 before the break in the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying match.

He headed home his third in the 63rd minute and Hibs defender Paul Hanlon restored Scotland’s four-goal advantage in the 87th minute with a header from a set-piece, shortly after Goncalo Almeida had grabbed a consolation with a long-range strike.

Stark said: “We had to be patient. It was very sticky, because Luxembourg made it difficult.

“We had to make gaps to get the chance to break through. We had to be vigilant and concentrate.

“We made some good passes and kept things moving. After the two goals the game changed completely for us.”

Burnley striker MacDonald set up Rhodes to force home four minutes after his long-range opener and the Huddersfield striker finished from close range two minutes before the interval.

MacDonald, who has had loan spells at Falkirk and Inverness, was a surprise choice after replacing Johnny Russell in the starting line-up following the goalless opener against Bulgaria last month.

And Stark was delighted to see the new front pair perform so well.

The former Celtic and Aberdeen player, whose team host Austria at St Mirren Park on Monday, said: “It is good to see the front players scoring.

“Alex had a really good match. It was an important goal by him.”