SCOTLAND slumped to a 3-1 defeat to understrength European champions Portugal at a half-empty Hampden tonight - to increase the growing pressure on their manager Alex McLeish.

McLeish had been looking for a performance and result to lift the Tartan Army following the dire display and disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Israel in a Nations League game in Haifa on Thursday evening.

But, while his young and inexperienced team did have their good moments and could have netted more than they did had they showed greater accuracy and composure in the final third, he got neither.

A goal in the first-half from Helder Costa and two more in the second from Eder and Bruma gave Fernando Santos’s men a comfortable and well-desereved win.

Steven Naismith, the Hearts forward, netted in the third minute of added on time at the end of the 90 minutes to at least give the home supporters something to cheer, but it was a grim night for the home side overall.

The quality of the opposition, even without their big names, meant it was always going to be a difficult task for Scotland to get a draw never mind a triumph.

But the Nations League matches against Albania away and Israel at home next month are of huge importance for McLeish. Fail to win them and miss out on the Euro 2020 play-off place that is up fro grabs and he will undoubtedly face calls to be sacked from fans.

Scotland have now won just two of the eight matches he has taken charge of - against Hungary away and Albania at home - since being appointed for a second time back in February.

The former Rangers manager has given younger players their chance after the failed Russia 2018 qualifying campaign and they will need time to come of age at international level. But there were few positives to take from this outing.

Kieran Tierney returning to Celtic saw captain Andy Robertson start in his preferred position at left back as McLeish reverted to a back four.

Scott McKenna of Aberdeen and Jack Hendry of Celtic formed the central defensive partner-ship with Stephen O’Donnell slotting in at right back.

James Forrest, the Celtic winger who against Israel despite scoring four goals against St Johnstone last Sunday, was handed a start. Elsewhere, Stuart Armstrong and Oli McBurnie came in for Kevin MacDonald and Johnny Russell in midfield and up front respectively.

Not only was there no Cristiano Ronaldo there was no William Carvalho, Nani Pepe or Bernando Silva in the Portugal line-up.

Cedric, the right back, and Eder, the striker, were the only players involved who had featured in the Euro 2016 final victory over France.

That said, Santos still had some decent individuals who ply their trade at a decent level across Europe at the likes of Benfica, Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto, RB Leipzig, Southampton, Sporting Lisbon, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Wolves in his young and inexperienced team.

The visitors may have lacked the star quality that those in the disappointing crowd had hoped to see when they bought their tickets, but their athleticism, technical ability, football intelligence and even, at times, cynicism, was apparent in their play.

Craig Gordon, who replaced Allan McGregor in goals, was tested in the 13th minute when Luis Neto shelled a long ball to Sergio Olivieria in the Scotland area. But the midfielder’s glancing effort was weak and easily held.

Oliviera forced the keeper to make a save with a far more powerful effort moments later. Unfortunately for him, it was his own.

Forrest squared the ball into the Portugal box and it popped up to the Porto man. Beto had to tip his header over his crossbar acrobatically to prevent his side falling behind.

That moment aside, Portugal looked the team likelier to score in the first-half. Yes, Steven Naismith got on the end of deliveries into the box from wide areas from Callum McGregor, Robertson and Forrest. But he only went close to netting with the last of his headed efforts in the 37th minute.

Bruma, the Leipzig winger who Celtic will come up against away in Germany in the Europa League next week, should have buried one of the two opportunities that fell to him in the opening 45 minutes.

The first was comfortably held by Gordon, but the second, after Jack Hendry had failed to deal with an Oliveira chip, went just wide of the right post.

The keeper did well to palm away a fiercely-struck Eder shot in the 41st minute, but it was little surprise when Portugal took the lead shortly after that.

Kevin Rodrigues was given a ridiculous amount of time and space to on the left flank and cut the ball back into the Scotland six yard box. Costa stole in front of Andy Robertson and prodded over the goal line.

McLeish’s men, no doubt after a few choice words from their manager, started the second half positively with McGregor firing wide in the 50th minute. Scott McKenna then went agonisingly wide after meeting a John McGinn corner into the Portugal area with a diving header. It was far more like it.

But the national team had Gordon to thank for ensuring they didn’t fall further behind in the 66th minute when Fernandes broke through on their goal. He dived to the right to deny his opponent and the score remained 1-0.

Fernandes was flagged offside by French linesman Guillaume Debart, but television replays showed that he had been on when the ball had been played forward.

Portugal went further in front at a free-kick in the 74th minute. Substitute Renato Sanches floated the ball into the Scotland box and Eder lost his marker O’Donnell and headed past Gordon and into the top left corner.

Graeme Shinnie replaced McGinn and his Aberdeen team mate Gary Mackay-Steven took over from McBurnie in the closing stages while Stuart Armstrong made way for McDonald in the closing stages

Bruma made it three in the 84th minute after receiving the ball from Gedson Fernandes, cutting inside Shinnie and drilling into the top right corner.

Mackay-Steven, who was winning only his second cap, did well to back heel the ball to Naismith in the Portugal box in injury-time and create a chance which the striker converted. But it was too little too late.