With Aston Villa’s man of the hour Jack Grealish making a well-deserved start for England on Thursday night, fans of the Midlands side may not have been paying too close of an attention on how John McGinn was faring north of the border.
The midfielder was lining up for Scotland in a crucial play-off game in the race to qualify for the European Championships next summer, with the Tartan Army’s clash against Israel going all the way to the wire and into penalties.
And whilst Grealish may be the one to pick up all the headlines on Friday morning, McGinn arguably outshone his Villa teammate with a man of the match display in his country’s shoot-out victory.
Despite not getting on the score-sheet, the 25-year-old helped lead the charge for Steve Clarke’s side, playing in a number ten role just behind Oliver McBurnie and Lyndon Dykes.
Even though he played the full 120 minutes, McGinn was a bundle of energy all throughout, and was a constant danger for the Israeli defence with his ability to get in and around the box and fire away shots – his four attempts on goal were the most of any Scot.
As well as trying to find a breakthrough himself, the Villa ace showed his more creative side too, providing two key passes and boasting an impressive 91% passing accuracy.
Then, when the shoot-out came around, McGinn proved his nerves of steel by stepping up to take the first penalty, which he emphatically dispatched.
Whilst Grealish picked up his own man of the match award for England, it does come with the slight caveat that it was in a friendly game. McGinn’s performance on the other hand was in a pressure-cooker elimination game.
Dean Smith would surely have been left raving at his Scottish dynamo’s magic display.
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