Matt Phillips enjoying new role after scoring winner for Scotland
West Brom winger scored the only goal of the game to beat Hungary in Budapest
Scotland’s Matt Phillips celebrates scoring at the Groupama Arena, Budapest. Photograph: PA
Matt Phillips is happy to keep working on the centre-forward role after hitting a crucial goal for Scotland.
The West Brom winger converted Ryan Fraser’s low cross with a first-time strike to earn Scotland a 1-0 victory against Hungary in Budapest.
The goal was Phillips’ first at international level and earned Alex McLeish a first victory in his second spell in charge.
McLeish had turned to Phillips up front with support from James Forrest after Friday’s 1-0 defeat by Costa Rica.
The former Blackpool player had struggled at times in the position during a friendly defeat by Holland in November but he grew into the role at the Groupama Arena.
With Leigh Griffiths and Steven Fletcher injured and Chris Martin and Steven Naismith both on just two goals for the season, McLeish had been looking for options up front and may have found one in Phillips.
The 27-year-old said: “I’m buzzing. It’s a very proud moment for me and my family. But also we won a game, the manager’s second game, and it was important for us to start winning again.
“It’s a position a few people have said in the past that they can see me evolving into. We have done a lot of work on it in the last few days. There is obviously still work to be done but I enjoyed it.
“A lot of the time I am making a run into the channel to receive the ball so I end up in a position I am used to anyway. But then on the other hand as a striker you have to get in the box and get shots on target and score goals, and that’s something I will aim to do.
“Wherever the manager picks me on the pitch, I will do my best and give 100 per cent for the shirt.”
McLeish classed the victory as a major moment in the evolution of his team after they improved on Friday’s showing with a more experienced starting line-up, even bouncing back from Charlie Mulgrew’s saved penalty in a physical encounter.
“You could see both sides wanted to win and I’m delighted for everyone involved that we did,” Phillips said.
“Winning games will bring confidence. It’s a new group so we are still gelling together and learning about each other, so we will take the positives and go forward.”