Scotland ended 22 years of pain for the Tartan Army by qualifying for their first major tournament since 1998 after a dramatic shootout victory over Serbia in the play-off final sent them through to Euro 2020.
Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson was magnificent, Lyndon Dykes was impressive, but Glasgow Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack was the standout from the rest of the pack, which should give Steven Gerrard a huge boost.
Jack would have been forgiven for feeling a little bit threatened after the Gers brought in Bongani Zungu from Amiens on an initial loan deal with the option to buy. But the 28-year-old sent Gerrard a timely reminder with his midfield masterclass against Serbia.
He received a solid rating of 6.9 from SofaScore, although this perhaps isn’t truly representative of his overall performance – he won four out of his six ground duels, made two tackles, two interceptions and one clearance, whilst he completed 36 out of 43 passes at a pass accuracy rating of 84%, took 58 touches of the ball and produced three accurate long balls over the top.
A look at his heatmap reveals a hub of activity in his own half, predominantly in the middle of the pitch, which coupled with the statistics shows that Jack was an important part of the supply chain for Dykes, John McGinn and Ryan Christie as well.
Sky Sports gave him a high grade of 7/10 for his efforts, whilst The Daily Record gave him a similar score, claiming he was ‘a class act and a cool presence in the middle of the pitch’, adding his ‘work sometimes goes unnoticed as it might not be flashy, but it’s brilliantly effective’, as ‘he was brave, he broke up play, built possession and generally bossed it.’ The Sun went even further, handing him an ‘outstanding’ rating of 10/10, saying he had ‘passing conviction’, ‘won his tackles’ and ‘read game typically well.’
He has been an ever-present in Gerrard’s side ever since he first took charge of the Ibrox outfit, as his presence in the midfield has played a major part in their success in recent years. The 9-cap Scotland international will now be hoping he can continue his fine form when he returns to the club after the international break.
Whilst most of the focus has been on Zungu’s arrival, that doesn’t mean that fans should forget about the ever-reliable centre-midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and confident in possession.