World Football - Strachan makes winning start as Scotland boss

Friendly international, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen - Scotland 1 (Mulgrew, 39) Estonia 0

Gordon Strachan made a winning start as Scotland manager courtesy of Charlie Mulgrew's first-half goal in a 1-0 friendly victory over Estonia.

Celtic defender Mulgrew popped up unmarked to drive the ball into the visiting net from Charlie Adam's free-kick on 39 minutes at a chilly Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen.

Strachan succeeded Craig Levein as Scotland manager and enjoyed this outing at the club ground where he won several trophies as a player under Sir Alex Ferguson in the 1970s and 1980s.

Despite being dominant for large swathes of the evening, Scotland could not find a second goal.

Strachan can enjoy his 56th birthday on Saturday basking in the afterglow of a warm reception from the home supporters and a fairly energetic performance from his team throughout the evening.

Scotland host Wales in Glasgow (March 22) and visit Serbia four days later in their latest round of World Cup qualifying matches in Group A.

They are bottom of their section with two points from four games under Levein and face an almost impossible task to reach next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.

But Strachan's brief is to build towards a place at the European Championship finals in 2016.

The home side certainly responded well to their new head coach, but should probably have won by more goals with Cardiff winger Chris Burke in impressive form before he was replaced by the equally lively Jordan Rhodes at half-time.

The pitch at Pittodrie resembled a farmer's field, but Scotland did not let that get them down as they dominated the majority of this contest.

Estonia's best couple of efforts came in the first half when goalkeeper Allan McGregor nudged a Taijo Teniste effort over the bar on nine minutes while he was quickly off his line to block from Tarmo Kink after Scotland were cut open.

Most of the action focused on the other end of the pitch as Estonia goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko prevented a Shaun Maloney volley from hitting the net on three minutes.

A fine run and shot from Maloney on 20 minutes prompted Pareiko to make another diving stop while Steven Fletcher nodded Burke's cross over the bar with Estonia marking space rather than the dark blue shirts.

Teniste was forced to race back in producing a fine challenge on Robert Snodgrass as he bounded through on goal.

Substitute Gert Kams could have snatched an equaliser that would hardly have been merited with eight minutes left when Kams drove a volley wide from a loose Christophe Berra header amid the usual rash of substitutions.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Chris Burke (Scotland): Impressed in the first half before being replaced by Jordan Rhodes in the second period as the usual rash of changes detracted from the flow of the evening, but can be content with his performance.

PLAYER RATINGS

Scotland: McGregor 7, Hutton 7, Webster 6, Berra 6, Mulgrew 7, Maloney 6, Brown 7, Adam 6, Burke 8, Naismith 7, Fletcher 6..subs: Morrison 6, Commons 6, Miller 6, Rhodes 7, McArthur 6, Snodgrass 7

Estonia: Pareiko 7, Jaager 6, Morozov 5, Klavan 6, Teniste 5, Puri 6, Mosnikov 6, Vassiljev 6, Oper 6, Kink 6, Ojamaa 6..subs: Kams 6, Luts 6, Purje 6, Ahjupera 6

MATCHCAST AND PLAYER RATINGS