35 min: I’m not sure I’d have any of the other Portugal players on show here over for Sunday lunch. On this showing they’d be reasonably well-mannered on the surface but introduce a few niggly complaints about the texture of the gravy.
33 min: Scotland pop, pop, pop the ball around that left side to little obvious end. Then finally it does end up with Robertson, who sends over a wonderful half-volleyed cross that Naismith can’t quite crane to meet.
30 min: Another Portugal corner. They’ve bucked up a bit in the last five minutes. McBurnie flings himself to defend it well at the near post … and as Scotland try to counter Sergio Oliveira fouls McGregor – I think – quite cynically and is booked for doing so.
28 min: I’m not convinced we are going to get a goal today but, look, I’ve been wrong many times before … and true to form I’m almost wrong straightaway as Bruma bursts into the Scotland box, gets the luck of the bobble and has space to lash a shot inches wide. For some reason a corner is given but Neto can’t get anything on his header at the back post.
25 min: First show from Eder, who heads off target under close attention from McKenna. These days Eder plays for Lokomotiv Moscow, did you know that? The goals haven’t rained in since that cracking effort in Paris but I think he did himself a career’s worth of good that night.
24 min: Russia are a goal up against Turkey – it’s Roman Neustadter doing the damage for the erstwhile World Cup hosts.
22 min: McGregor, fed cleverly by Armstrong, stands up a cross from the left and Naismith meets it but heads well over. Was McBurnie better placed? Either way it’s another nice bit of play. We’ve seen next to nothing from Portugal so far really.
21 min: Forrest has caused problems with his direct running so far and is felled for a free-kick 20 yards inside the Portugal half. It doesn’t come to a lot, McKenna winning a far-post header but sending it straight to Beto, but it’s another sign of Scotland’s intent.
18 min: Scotland are playing quite well, that’s my hot take so far. Trying to do things the right way, and an attack-minded lineup has had a few sparky moments in the opposition half. They have a few decent technical players, a fact that is sometimes a bit easily forgotten; is it going to be enough to salvage their Nations League campaign though?
15 min: Save by Beto! And it’s to prevent an Oliveira own goal, as the Portugal player, fresh from that lame free-kick, inexplicably heads a Forrest cross towards his team’s net. The keeper reacts superbly to flip the ball over and then, from the resulting corner, watches an Armstrong drive whistle over.
14 min: Kosovo are winning 1-0 in the Faroe Islands. They’re a hot tip to make it through to the Euros via the League D play-off, are Kosovo. Milot Rashica, such a tremendous talent, with the goal.
12 min: Sergio Oliveira hits a free-kick into the wall from a decent-ish position for Portugal. Wasted opportunity.
11 min: “Who would you rather have over for Sunday lunch, Nick? Portuguese Eder or Italian Eder?” asks Luke Pulfer, and I fancy we’ll have time for a few posers like this.
Portuguese I think. He’s got a good story to tell! And everyone likes a dinner table raconteur.
9 min: Portugal now enjoy their first extended spell of possession, although they don’t appear in a big rush to do much with it. Cedric, of Southampton, has been heavily involved but eventually Scotland win it back.
7 min: “I didn’t realise that this game was also being played behind closed doors,” quips Simon McMahon.
Ah, look, I wasn’t going to go there but if you will … yes, it’s fairly subdued in there, to put it mildly.
5 min: Robertson wins Scotland a corner with a surging run down that left flank. McGinn, a real creative force at his best, draws a blank with both his first and second bites of the cherry.
2 min: Portugal, who have made 10 changes from that Poland game, are slightly on the back foot early on, McGregor making one nice run up the left and Scotland playing the ball about fairly well.
They’re singing the anthems now. I do like Flower of Scotland, I must say. Genuinely stirring even in a half-full stadium. You’d have to give Scotland a chance of a morale-boosting win here against what is essentially Portugal’s second string …
“I was in Hampden Park on Tuesday,” writes Andrew Benton. “Hampden Park in Eastbourne, that is. Why don’t they team up as sister locations, bringing football to Eastbourne and sun, sea and ninety-niners to Glasgow.”
Why don’t they play it at a stadium they can fill, is my immediate thought as the teams line up to emerge at a lightly-populated Hampden. They could have packed out Pittodrie, Tynecastle of Easter Road for this couldn’t they?
Don’t forget there is Nations League fun for us to have as well. Faroe Islands v Kosovo, Azerbaijan v Malta and Russia v Turkey all take place at the same time as this – I’ll keep you abreast of the best bits.
What do you do when your three best players are left-backs? Start one of them – Andy Robertson – is McLeish’s tactic today. Portugal start with Eder, unlikely hero of Euro 2016, up top in a much-changed lineup that does not include Bernardo Silva.
Starting lineups: Scotland v Portugal
Scotland: Gordon, O’Donnell, Robertson, Hendry, McKenna, McGinn, Forrest, Armstrong, McBurnie, Naismith, McGregor
Portugal: Beto; Cédric, Rúben Dias, Neto, Kevin Rodrigues; Danilo, Sérgio Oliveira, Bruno Fernandes; Bruma, Hélder Costa, Éder
It’s a nice piece of escapism for Scotland, this. Or so goes the theory. You’d think most people inside Hampden will be in a rush to commit Thursday’s Nations League defeat in Israel to the dustbin – so now it’s simply incumbent upon Alex McLeish’s men to give them something they can kick back and enjoy.
Would that it were so simple. Because Portugal arrive in decent nick despite the well publicised absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. There have been plenty of questions about what the post-Ronaldo Portugal might look like and the answer, currently, seems to be “pretty decent”. They won 3-2 in Poland three days back and played some blinding stuff; last month they defeated Italy without him as well and they appear to have discovered a fluency that hasn’t always been in evidence down the years.
So if they turn up and turn it on, Scotland could be in for a long old evening. They’re used to those by now. But a fun, frisky performance here would set a nice tone for next month’s games and ensure that October wasn’t all bad. It begins at 5pm; stay tuned!