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Page last updated at 23:32 GMT, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Craig Levein hopes Dublin victory impressed Scots fans

Kenny Miller celebrates opening the scoring
Miller opened the scoring for Scotland in Dublin

Craig Levein hopes the 3-0 win over Northern Ireland in the Nations Cup has proven to Scotland's supporters that he has a side of much potential.

"The most pleasing thing for me, and I must stress this, everybody wanted to be here, everybody played with a smile on their face," Scots boss Levein said.

"And everybody understood how important it was for the fans to come here and see just how good a team they can be.

"I was hoping that they would make sure I didn't have to eat my words."

Scotland's build-up started in controversial fashion, with Wolves striker Steven Fletcher saying in a text message that he did not wish to be considered for the game.

Levein's comments about the desire to win in Dublin may have been a barbed response to that, but he concentrated on praising the players who he lauded before the game for their recent improving form.

"I was thrilled with them, not just with the way they performed, but their application was exceptional," the 46-year-old told BBC Scotland.

"I have been watching them week-in and week-out playing at the very highest level and I am not surprised by that.

"What I thought was exceptional was the way they pressed as a team, they worked back the pitch just as hard as they went forward, which is sometimes a difficult thing to do, and I have noting but praise for them in the way they did that.

"That application, I think, made the game a little bit easier because we did not give Northern Ireland a second in possession.

"We have technically some very good players, but they also have good football brains, particularly in the midfield area."

The victory in Dublin, coming 24 hours after hosts Republic of Ireland defeated Wales 3-0, leaves the Scots equal top in the new competition before it resumes in May.

Neither match was played in front of large crowds and some have questioned value of the Nations Cup, but full-back Phil Bardsley stressed the Scots' desire to lift the trophy.

"It is a great start for us and hopefully we can continue that in May," Bardsley commented.

"It was fantastic. We wanted to start this competition well and we have done that - it was a great performance and everyone played their part.

"We've got good experienced players and young hungry players who want to come in and do well.

"If we keep working hard together when we are called up for Scotland and keep doing well, I am sure we have a bright future."

Bardsley was pleased with his developing partnership with Kris Commons, who scored Scotland's third goal after Kenny Miller opened the scoring and James McArthur added the second.

Commons was also delighted with his recent form, having made a scoring start to his time at Celtic.

"We got out of the blocks nice and quick and created quite a lot of chances and it could have been maybe four or five in the end," the former Derby County winger reflected.

"It looked like we were a team that's been playing together quite some time, but there were a few making their debuts and a few out of position, so credit to the boys."

Meanwhile, Levein revealed that he had withdrawn Celtic midfielder Scott Brown from the starting line-up just before the kick-off because he had a tight groin and the Scotland coach did not want to risk further damage.

see also
Worthington upbeat despite defeat
09 Feb 11 |  Irish
Scotland 3-0 Northern Ireland
09 Feb 11 |  Irish
Wednesday football as it happened
09 Feb 11 |  Scottish Premier
International football photos
09 Feb 11 |  Football
Gordon pulls out of Scots squad
08 Feb 11 |  Scotland
McCartney retirement blow for NI
08 Feb 11 |  Irish
McCourt expects edgy Scots match
07 Feb 11 |  Scotland
Houston believes future is bright
07 Feb 11 |  Scotland
Hanley nets first Scots call-up
01 Feb 11 |  Scotland
Fletcher shuns Scots call by text
02 Feb 11 |  Scotland

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