World Football - Rhodes double helps Scotland scrape win

International friendly, Stade Josy Barthel - Luxembourg 1 (Gerson 47) Scotland 2 (Rhodes 11, 23)

Jordan Rhodes scored twice as an experimental Scotland side began to pick up the pieces after the disastrous Craig Levein era with an unimpressive 2-1 friendly win at Luxembourg's Stade Josy Barthel.

Managed by caretaker manager Billy Stark - who was promoted from his role as U21 coach after Levein's recent sacking due to a wretched run of results - Scotland made their superior class count against their mainly part-time hosts in the first half with Rhodes on target in 11 and 23 minutes.

The Blackburn Rovers forward was handily placed to bundle the ball home from close range after it had broken kindly for him from Paul Dixon's cross for the opening goal.

Rhodes would soon notch his third goal in a Scotland shirt when he netted after Andrew Shinnie's effort had been blocked by Jonathan Joubert in the home goal.

But the visiting side - posted at a lowly 70th in the latest FIFA standings - were largely dreadful in the second period as Lars Gerson sunk a free-kick from 25 yards out on 47 minutes to change the mood of the match.

Scotland then looked like the hesitant team that cost Levein his job having picked up only two points from their opening four World Cup qualifying games - a sequence of results that has all but ended Scotland's bid to reach the 2014 finals in Brazil.

Poor passing and a willingness to concede cheap fouls enabled Luxembourg to almost rescue a draw that looked beyond them in the first half.

Scotland could have scored more in the first half as Rhodes knocked the ball wide on seven minutes with only Joubert to beat, but Scotland were shocked when Kilmarnock's Liam Kelly - on for Charlie Mulgrew at half-time - felled the dangerous Mario Mutsch before Gerson swept the ball into the corner of the net with Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks failing to scramble across his line to save.

Scotland lived dangerously until the end with Gilks almost palming a Stefano Bensi header into his own net from Mutsch's cross on 72 minutes.

David Turpel also swept a dangerous ball across the face of the visiting area nine minutes from time while Rhodes saw a header nestle in the Luxembourg net in the closing moments but an offside flag halted the hat-trick.

In terms of landmarks, Shinnie became the first Inverness Caledonian Thistle to earn a Scotland cap. Gilks also made his first start.

Norwich defender Steven Whittaker returned for his first appearance since the 2-1 friendly win over Cyprus a year ago.

St Johnstone's Murray Davidson - who was the first player from the Perth club to represent Scotland in 80 years - and Leigh Griffiths of Hibernian were thrown on amid the usual rash of changes in the second period as the team finished with a distinctly Scottish Premier League feel to it.

Gordon Strachan, Joe Jordan and Owen Coyle are all in the running alongside Stark to succeed Levein with Coyle admitting before the match that Scotland have enough quality to improve in future times.

At least, they finished a forgettable year with a win against a side ranked at 144th in the world. After such a gloomy period, Scotland will happily cling to such moments of solace.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Jordan Rhodes - Scotland: Two fine finishes from Rhodes. The one bright spot in a gloomy few weeks for Scotland's national side.

PLAYER RATINGS

Luxembourg: Joubert 6, Mutsch 7, Bukvic 6, Deville 6, Schnell 6, Janisch 5, Blaise 6, Krogh Gerson 7, Payal 5, Bettmer 5, Leweck 6. Subs: Peters 6, Da Mota Alves 6, Bensi 6, Laterza 6.

Scotland: Gilks 5, Dixon 6, Hanley 6, Berra 5, Whittaker 5, D Fletcher 6, Mulgrew 6, Shinnie 6, Naismith 5, Miller 7, Rhodes 8. Subs: Kelly 6, Davidson 6, Griffiths 6.

FULL MATCHCAST