Scotland starts for Norwich City duo in friendly victory over Northern Ireland

Norwich City's Steven Whittaker in action for Scotland against Northern Ireland at Hampden Park, Gla

Norwich City's Steven Whittaker in action for Scotland against Northern Ireland at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Norwich City defenders Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker both started for Scotland in a deserved 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in their Vauxhall International Challenge match tonight.

A late header by Ipswich Town defender Christophe Berra gave Scotland the narrow victory at Hampden Park.

Martin was substituted at half-time and Whittaker in the 78th minute, with neither appearing to have any fitness issues.

Canaries striker Kyle Lafferty, currently on loan in Turkey with Çaykur Rizespor, was an unused substitute for the Irish.

Visiting keeper Michael McGovern made several saves in the first half to keep an enterprising home side at bay, most notably from Steven Fletcher and Ikechi Anya.

The Scots also had the best of a second half which was punctuated with substitutions but it looked like ending in a stalemate until the 85th minute when Berra, these days down the pecking order but who had replaced Canaries captain Martin, headed in a corner from debutant Matt Ritchie.

It was a decent performance from the Scots as they turn their attention to their Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar at the national stadium on Sunday although Gordon Strachan will be looking for his side to be more incisive in front of goal.

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Michael O'Neill's team were rather insipid but they will be glad of the work-out ahead of their Group F qualifier at home to Finland on Sunday.

Strachan hailed his side's performance but admitted there was room for improvement ahead of Sunday's match.

'I'm happy a lot of the lads who've not played a lot recently got a game and got a touch of the ball, and boys who have not had caps recently, who deserved them, got their caps,' the Scotland boss told Sky Sports.

'I thought that the shape was good but there's one or two wee things I'd like to work on carrying on from here but we'll do that.'

Strachan, as promised, utilised his squad with Bournemouth's Ritchie handed his debut.

The English-born right winger, who qualifies through his father Alex, was drafted into the squad for the first time this week and was asked to support main striker Fletcher with Anya on the other flank.

Derby defender Craig Forsyth made his first start as Celtic's Craig Gordon was given the nod in goal and West Brom midfielder Darren Fletcher took the armband.

Match-winner Berra admitted that Northern Ireland were tough opponents to break down.

'It was a difficult game, they made it very difficult,' he said. 'When teams do that it's very hard to break them down.

'Sometimes games are won on set pieces and luckily enough I managed to get my head on the end of a good corner kick and it just sneaked in.'

Northern Ireland manager O'Neill was pleased with his side's performance despite defeat and singled out some of his younger players for praise, with Manchester United's Paddy McNair given his debut.

He said: 'We can take an awful lot (from the performance). We ended up with three 20-year-olds or under-20-year-olds on the pitch.

'The likes of Paddy McNair, Luke McCullough, Ryan McLaughlin – it's great for those lads to get minutes in this type of game.'

He added: 'There were a lot of pluses – Michael McGovern did very well for us. We just allowed Scotland to press us at times and we didn't create as much as we would have liked but there were more positives from the performance than negatives.'