Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell scored his first goal for the Scotland Men's National Team on Sunday, finding the back of the net in the 74th minute of a 2-0 win over San Marino at San Marino Stadium in Serravalle.
Russell finished off a flowing move to clinch an important victory in Group I of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. With Scotland leading 1-0 in the late stages, the winger settled a low cross from James Forrest, rounded San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini and fired home from from seven yards for his maiden international goal at the senior level.
After featuring as a second-half substitute in Scotland's 3-0 loss at Kazakhstan on Thursday, Russell started and went the full 90 minutes on Sunday for his 11th career cap. His team raced out to a dream start, surging ahead 1-0 on a Kenny McLean strike, but San Marino would spend the remainder of the night defending resolutely against a superior opponent. Scotland outshot the hosts 17-3 and enjoyed 72 percent of possession, but it wasn't until Russell struck that victory was assured.
Headlined by world No. 1-ranked Belgium, the six teams in Group I will square off in a home-and-away, double-round-robin format between now and November for a total of 10 qualifying games. The top two finishers will advance to UEFA Euro 2020, which is scheduled to take place in 12 cities in 12 different European countries during the summer of 2020.
Even if Scotland fails to secure a top-two finish in Group I, they will have another shot at qualifying for the competition via the Euro 2020 playoffs one year from now. Scotland earned a spot in the Euro 2020 playoffs via their first-place finish in Group 1 of the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League C, which also resulted in promotion to League B for the 2020-21 tournament.
UEFA EURO 2020 QUALIFYING: GROUP I TABLE
With two more Scotland appearances under his belt, Russell will now return to Sporting Kansas City for Saturday's MLS match against the Montreal Impact. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT at Children’s Mercy Park with tickets available at SeatGeek.com. Fans may also call 888-4KC-GOAL to secure a Family 4 Pack, consisting of four tickets, four hot dogs, four Coke products and four bags of chips.