ALEX McLeish last night singled out James Forrest for praise after the Celtic winger netted a hat-trick that ensured Scotland came from behind to beat Israel 3-2 and secure a Euro 2020 play-off spot.

Forrest's goals ensured the national team won their final Group C1 fixture, topped the section, won promotion to Group B and ensured they will be seeded third in the Euro 2020 qualifying draw.

It was a nervous evening for the national team; they fell behind early on when former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal netted and endured some anxious final moments after Eran Zahavi had pulled one back for the visitors.

However, McLeish's men held on to triumph and set up a meeting with Finland in the play-off semi-final in March 2020 - if the Nordic nation don't secure a finals spot through the traditional route.

The 59-year-old, whose preparations for the final double header were hampered by accusations about unrest in the camp following the withdrawal of no fewer than nine players, hailed Forrest for his contribution.

He also praised Rangers Allan McGregor, who has displaced his Celtic counterpart Craig Gordon as his country's No.1, for a vital save from a Tomer Hemed shot in the 88th minute.

Asked where the achievement rated in his career as a player and a manager, McLeish said: “For me, it’s up there with anything. I’m extra proud of the players because we are in an era when the national team has struggled.

“I’m absolutely proud of the guys, of the young players, who did so well in Albania and that set us up for this game, it gave us confidence.

“I was actually quite cool. I tried not to look at the clock at the last 10 minutes. The players produced some fantastic football for 60 minutes. We didn’t start so well, we were chasing it a bit, but we sorted that out.

“We had a lot of great players, the experience of (Steven) Fletcher was great, you saw what he brings to the team, but special mention must go to James," he said. "To score five goals in two games is an incredible return.

“You want a goalkeeper like Allan behind behind you. That was phenomenal save and he’s been doing that for Rangers.

"I've only played four competition games. Three we've won, one we've lost. I took a hit after the Israel loss in October and I didn't feel great for 24 hours then I was back working again trying to put it right."

Israel manager Andreas Herzog felt there were two key moments in the match for his side – when Munas Dabbur just failed to get on the end of an Eran Zahavi cross in the first-half and then when Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor denied substitute Tomer Hemed with an outstanding save with two minutes of regulation time remaining.

“That (the missed Dabbur chance) was a key moment for us,” he said. "We didn’t manage to control the ball any more. Scotland took over.

“We brought Tomer Hemed on and he did what we hoped he would. It was a great save. I wanted to push the ball in. I will think about the Hemed chance a lot in the next couple of hours. We didn’t have enough luck in this situation. But congratulations to Scotland.”