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.
|Ronaldo to start as Allegri aims to avoid Champions League big guns|
|Odriozola: I´m in love with Benzema, he´s the best number nine in the world|
|Vikings fire OC DeFilippo after loss to Seahawks|
|Marcelino suggests Valencia open to Batshuayi departure|
|Bottas to make rally debut in title-winning M-Sport Ford Fiesta|
|Kovac dismisses Pavard speculation|
|Yaya Toure leaves Olympiacos after just five appearances|
|Riise challenges Liverpool to banish Champions League disappointment against Napoli|
|We rallied around it - Durant on Green confrontation aftermath|
|Valencia ´p****d off´ with Fellaini´s controversial Young Boys winner - Soler|
|More must be done to combat racism at Premier League grounds – Chalobah|
|Napoli will not sack ´big signing´ Ancelotti if they miss Champions League qualification, says De La|
|Guardiola not interested in ´exceptional´ Saul|
|Shai gives Windies hope with thrilling ODI run chase|
|Ten Hag unsure whether to risk Ajax stars against Bayern|
|Erasmus to work with Bulls as Springboks assist Super Rugby sides|
|Paul Gascoigne pleads not guilty to sexual assault|
|Joshua is ´begging´ for unification fight, claims Wilder|
|Silva, Fernandinho add to Guardiola´s injury woes|
|Hosszu storms to 14th gold, Seto smashes Le Clos´ world record|
|Raheem is an incredible human being - Guardiola rallies behind City star Sterling|
|Sexton pens IRFU extension until 2021|
|Ajax boss Ten Hag can do big things, says Bayern chief Rummenigge|
|He´s good at basketball – Kerr running out of superlatives for Curry|
|Green thrilled to make Warriors return in victory over Timberwolves|
|Madrid squad great and humble - Solari responds to Ronaldo|
|Langer unsure what to expect from Perth wicket|
|Fournette subjected to alleged racial abuse in Titans loss - Marrone|
|Better and better - Mbappe hails Neymar link|
|It´s the end of one of the best movies you could ever see - James pays tribute to retiring Wade|
|NASA invites Curry to see moon rocks|
|No plan B for LaLiga Miami game after Barcelona withdrawal|
|Messi´s English haul, Neymar eyes hat-trick record - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|LeBron trumps Wade in last dance, Curry scores 38 points|
|Seahawks secure dominant win over Vikings|
|Iniesta visits Messi and former club Barcelona|
|Drake makes plea for ball thrown into stands after Miami miracle|
|´Toughest pretty boy I´ve ever met´ - Langer dismisses Paine concerns|
|Van Dijk says Liverpool can challenge for double ahead of Napoli decider|
|Hazard: I´ve always loved Real Madrid|
|Yankees interested in Machado, not Harper - Cashman|
|Warriors´ Curry believes moon landing was faked|
|76ers star Butler suffers strained groin|
|Brady: Patriots still have a lot of football to play|
|´No one died´ - Belichick´s message to Patriots after stunning loss|
|Silva lauds Digne after stunning free-kick|
|Aduriz joins Messi, Ramos in LaLiga history books|
|We have a plan - Ravens coach Harbaugh prepared for Flacco return|
|´It´s difficult to accept´ - Gracia calls for introduction of VAR|
|LaLiga press on with overseas match plan despite Barcelona withdrawal|
|PSG open Coupe de France defence at fifth-tier Pontivy|
|Hazard backs Sterling as Neville reveals England star´s Euro 2016 concerns|
|Everton 2 Watford 2: Digne salvages draw with 96th-minute free-kick|
|Barcelona could ´steal´ Kane, says Pochettino|
|Oakland Raiders fire general manager McKenzie|
|Struggling Villarreal appoint Garcia Plaza as Calleja successor|
|Warriors assign Cousins to G League team|
|Barcelona pull out of plan to play LaLiga game in Miami|
|Pochettino to keep an eye on Inter when Spurs face Barcelona|
|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|