ALEX McLeish last night expressed satisfaction with a Scotland win over Albania in their opening Nations League game that justified his bold decision to play with Steven Naismith and Johnny Russell up front.

Naismith, who was a late call-up to the national squad last week, helped his country score two goals in the second-half at Hampden to ensure they won 2-0 and moved top of Group 1 in League C of the new competition.

The decision to select the Norwich City forward, who is on loan at Hearts again this season, ahead of Leigh Griffiths raised eyebrows among the members of the Tartan Army in the 17,455 crowd.

However, McLeish, whose team had scored just one goal in his five games after he was appointed Scotland manager for a second time back in February, felt his displayed vindicated his selection.

And he backed the 31-year-old, who took his tally for his country to eight on the occasion of his 46th cap, to build on his impressive personal showing in the future.

"I work with the players every day," he said. "I see them. I think I’m pretty well qualified to select who I choose two. And I felt Johnny Russell and Steven Naismith did very well. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

"It happened to me – getting dropped by Scotland and getting called back up again and then you don’t look back.

"Naisy was suffering with a heel injury in the summer and asked if he could stay home and start the season well. I said: 'If you start well then I’ll consider you'. I didn’t pick him at first, but when he arrived I said it was meant to be.

“We paid Albania the ultimate respect by playing at a high level and that’s the biggest respect you can pay your opponents

McLeish added: "It was a very good performance. We played at a great tempo and were versatile in the wide areas with centre backs joining in and we we did it with good defensive discipline.

"We hit them with a whirlwind and didn’t get a goal and couldn’t keep up that pace forever. It was very nice to see that first goal going in."

McLeish admitted that he had felt the pressure mounting on him after his team had managed just one win, against Hungary in Budapest in March, but stressed he was undeterred by the criticism he had been subjected to.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day," he said. "People talked about my win ratio – I'm not bothered about that. I had to take the South America trip and it turned out positive despite losing two games.,

“It’s three games and I was under pressure, I know that and feel that as I know how football works. But I’m building a wall, not papering over cracks.

Albania manager Christian Panucci, whose team had won their opening Nations League against Israel in Elbasen on Friday evening, admitted the home team deserved the triumph.

"Scotland definitely had more chances than we did during the game," he said. "The manner that we lost the goals was disappointing. But I don't want to take anything away from the great performance by Scotland tonight."