JOHNNY Russell, the Sporting Kansas City forward who sewed up the win over San Marino with a late strike, last night insisted scoring his first international goal had been worth the extreme lengths he had gone to in order to join up with Scotland.

Russell, the former Dundee United and Derby County forward, had travelled from the United States to Russia to Kazakhstan last week so he could meet up with the national squad ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifying double header.

Alex McLeish’s men were booed off the park by their own supporters following a 3-0 defeat in their Group I opener in Nursultan last Thursday – and received exactly the same treatment at the end of their unconvincing 2-0 triumph yesterday.

However, Russell, whose 74th minute effort in the San Marino Stadium ensured his team had clinched all three points, was delighted to finally open his account for his country on the occasion of his ninth cap.

“It was worth the travelling whatever happened, but to top it off with a goal was brilliant,” he said. “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s taken longer than I would have liked, but I’m delighted to get off the mark.

“I should have had a hat-trick against Gibraltar (in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Faro back in 2015) a while back! To score for my country is one of the best moments of my career. I panicked a bit and took a while on my right foot, I can tell you that! It was laces through it.

“I spent so long out of the squad and I said I’d do everything I could to get back. Once I was in I was never going to take it for granted. I knew there would be a lot of travelling, but it’s worth it, especially getting a goal.”

Russell added: “I left at four in the morning on Monday, went Denver-New York-Russia-Kazakhstan, then here. And I fly back tomorrow morning. We’re at home next week so at least I don’t have another trip when I get back.

“It’s not been easy with all the time changes. I was up at four last night watching the UFC! I’ve managed to get into a routine before but it was more difficult this time. But if that’s one of the things I have to adapt to, so be it.”

Russell was one of several Scotland players who stressed had no problems with the reaction of their supporters to their flat showing against San Marino.

He admitted it had been a poor start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and predicted they will be doing well to finish in the top two in their section and progress to the finals automatically as a result of that.

“We got off to such a good start and wanted to kick on from there, but they frustrated us and sat deep,” he said. “We had a few chances which we should have done better with and it was a difficult one. We didn’t perform anywhere near where we wanted to, especially after the other night. We wanted to put on a show.

“The fans travel all over the place with us and have been amazing. They’ve got every right to voice their frustrations. It was a frustrating night for everyone. They were frustrated, we were frustrated. It’s a win but it should have been so much better.

“The next games are in a few months which will be the end of the season for everybody else, but not me! We need to stay positive. We got off to a horrible start that we didn’t see coming and we weren’t at our greatest tonight. We all need to show that we deserve to be in the team.

“There is no margin for error. We’ve seen it so many times with our country that you don’t often get second chances. We’re kind of playing catch-up now.

“The Russia result against Kazakhstan (they won 4-0 away yesterday) puts ours into perspective. We expected to do well, but they hit us out of nowhere with two great goals and we didn’t do what we’re good at and set out to do. Going down two goals at international level is always hard to come back from.”