James Forrest inspired Scotland to Nations League promotion as his hat-trick headlined a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Israel in Glasgow on Tuesday.
Twice on target in the 4-0 trouncing of Albania on Saturday, Forrest maintained his rich form by overturning former Celtic team-mate Beram Kayal's opener in the space of nine first-half minutes and completing a decisive treble just after the hour.
Alex McLeish's men - beaten 2-1 in the reverse fixture - needed three points to leapfrog Israel into top spot in Group 1 of League C and were made to negotiate an anxious last 15 minutes when Eran Zahavi reduced the deficit.
Scotland demonstrated maturity to steady and saw off one final scare with help from Allan McGregor to confirm their ascension to the Nations League's second tier.
Early tension at Hampden Park ratcheted up when midfielder Kayal, afforded time to pick his spot from 25 yards, curled a brilliant effort beyond Allan McGregor in the ninth minute.
Scotland responded confidently and, after Ariel Harush acrobatically denied Callum McGregor, Forrest took charge.
The winger pounced on a kind deflection from Stuart Armstrong's initial shot to restore parity and guided his side ahead in a one-on-one in the 43rd minute, Ryan Christie having skilfully squared following Steven Fletcher's headed flick-on.
And it was Scotland's star man who all but made the points safe in the 64th minute as he expertly cushioned Ryan Fraser's lay-off and clinically picked out the bottom-right corner.
Israel rallied late to give the contest life as Zahavi turned on Bibras Natcho's pass and picked out the bottom-left corner, but McGregor's close-range denial of substitute Tomer Hemed in the 88th minute spared the hosts from heartbreak.
What does it mean? McLeish finds formula for the future
Two successive competitive victories, both achieved with reasonable helpings of attacking panache, should be enough to convince McLeish that the unconvincing three-man defence previously employed is to remain at best a secondary option.
It may be tricky to fit Kieran Tierney into his newly adopted 4-3-3, but that conundrum is surely outweighed by the positives, as Scotland celebrate Nations League promotion and having a Euro 2020 play-off safety net in place before the main qualification campaign begins.
Forrest finally flourishing
Much has been expected of Forrest since he debuted for Scotland in 2011, at which time he was still not established in Celtic's starting XI.
Now, after going scoreless in his first 24 international outings, the 27-year-old suddenly has five goals to his credit and looks a player increasingly at ease in the national team.
He scored three goals from five attempts, as well as creating three chances for his team-mates, with the lively Fraser setting up four on the opposite flank - two of which were assists.
4 - James Forrest has scored four goals in his last two games for Scotland, after failing to score in his previous 24 appearances. Awakening. pic.twitter.com/GEwLPtvXL9— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 20, 2018
Peretz fails to match previous heights
On the scoresheet and influential when the teams met in October, Dor Peretz picked a poor time to lose sight of those standards as he struggled to exhibit any kind of influence from midfield, failing to create a single chance for his team-mates and barely seeing the ball before being replaced after Forrest's third goal.
Key Opta Facts:
- McLeish has won consecutive matches as Scotland manager for the first time since October 2007 during his first stint in charge (6 wins).
- Scotland have lost just one of their last 13 competitive home games (W9 D3), remaining unbeaten in each of their last eight (W5 D3).
- Forrest is the first player to score a hat-trick for Scotland since Robert Snodgrass in September 2016 vs Malta.
- Scotland’s Fraser has been directly involved in 15 goals in 17 appearances for club and country combined in 2018-19 (5 goals, 10 assists).
Scotland will head to December's Euro 2020 qualifying draw with renewed optimism, while Israel have time to reflect on a missed opportunity. The next international fixture window is in March.
|Pochettino confirms Walker-Peters set to start against Barcelona|
|Denver Nuggets add free agent Young|
|Topping Group A no magic wand for an easy knockout draw, says Simeone|
|The cake has been made, now we need the cherry - Ancelotti targets repeat at Anfield|
|Lloris braced to face ´one of the best in history´ in Messi|
|Tuchel expects Neymar to face Red Star|
|Foden signs Manchester City deal to 2024|
|It happened to me! - Valverde laughs off Dembele timekeeping|
|´Projecting´ an Argentina return? Messi met with AFA president and Scaloni|
|Erasmus expects to leave head coach role after World Cup|
|Chelsea issue suspensions pending investigation into Sterling incident|
|Kane is extraordinary – Valverde hails reported Barcelona target|
|Man behind Naomi Osaka´s rise wins WTA Coach of the Year|
|England name unchanged Test squad as Willey returns for West Indies ODIs|
|Spalletti: No issue with Icardi watching Superclasico in Madrid|
|Klopp confirms 2013 talks with ´chatty´ Napoli president De Laurentiis|
|Sri Lanka spinner Dananjaya suspended due to illegal action|
|His reaction was just brilliant – Klopp praises Sterling for response to abuse|
|Gomez renewal a ´smart decision´ for both parties – Klopp|
|Magnificent Molinari named European Golfer of the Year|
|Barcelona best option for Frenkie de Jong, insists midfielder´s father|
|Gronkowski on Miami Miracle: ´Got to make that tackle´|
|Tottenham youngster Walker-Peters signs on until 2023|
|Juventus ´more of a family´ than Real Madrid - Ronaldo|
|Kingsley Coman contemplates retirement if injury nightmare continues|
|McVay ´sick´ over offensive failings as Rams coach takes blame for loss|
|Calleja axed as Villarreal coach|
|Kenyan Drake on Miami Miracle: I couldn´t let Gronk tackle me!|
|Ronaldo: I deserved Ballon d´Or, the numbers don´t lie|
|Rugby Australia to make Cheika decision this month|
|England defender Gomez signs new Liverpool deal|
|Ronaldo wants to see Messi follow him to Italy|
|Neymar happy to play in any position for PSG - Draxler|
|Paine insists he is ´fine´ after taking blow to finger|
|Ponzio: River players will be ´idolised´ for Libertadores success|
|Champions League permutations: How Inter, PSG and Liverpool can progress|
|Kohli: India were better and deserved to win|
|Bears shut down Goff, Rams|
|India survive dramatic finish against Australia|
|Klopp calls for electric Anfield atmosphere against Napoli|
|Saints clinch back-to-back NFC South titles, Bears trump Rams|
|Bucks improve to 2-0 against Raptors with win in Toronto|
|Black Caps include Patel for Sri Lanka Tests|
|Maidana: River want Real Madrid clash|
|Cowboys top Eagles in OT behind stellar Cooper display|
|AC Milan evaluating Fabregas signing – Leonardo|
|WATCH: Steelers´ chance at game-tying field goal slips away|
|Hayne will plead not guilty to charges, says lawyer|
|Boca boss Schelotto: The only thing I feel is sadness|
|Cardinals´ Fitzgerald makes NFL history with most receptions for one team|
|River Plate´s Copa Libertadores star Gonzalo Martinez confirms January departure|
|Klopp: I was never worried about Salah´s form|
|Packers QB Rodgers sets NFL record for most passes without an interception|
|World Cup bulking hampered Man United form – Lukaku|
|Leonardo rules out Ibrahimovic Milan return|
|Warriors´ Green to return against Timberwolves|
|I feel for him… we´ll make it work – Butler responds to Embiid´s frustration|
|Torino draw no missed opportunity for misfiring AC Milan, claims Gattuso|
|We´ll always be linked together forever - Wade reflects on playing with James before final match-up|
|O´Sullivan wins record seventh UK title|
|Chiefs secure playoff berth, Saints win NFC South|
|River Plate 3 Boca Juniors 1 (aet, 5-3 agg): Quintero and Martinez clinch Libertadores title in extr|
|WATCH: Chiefs QB Mahomes throws no-look pass|
|Dolphins defeat Patriots on miraculous final play|
|Kizzire eagle snatches QBE Shootout victory|
|AC Milan 0 Torino 0: Donnarumma shines, Cutrone misses late chance|
|Back to the drawing board for West Indies - Chase|
|Copa Libertadores: Messi and Griezmann among stars in Madrid for River-Boca Superclasico|
|Brady sets NFL record for most career TD passes|
|Copa Libertadores: Tevez named on Boca bench for Superclasico final|