Steve Clarke after another late win keeps Scots on course: ‘Don’t call us lucky – we worked hard to get in this position’

Steve Clarke has stressed that Scotland deserve the fortune that has seen his side score two late winners in the space of five days to cement their place in second spot in Group F.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke applauds the fans after the late 1-0 win against the Faroe Isles   (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Scotland manager Steve Clarke applauds the fans after the late 1-0 win against the Faroe Isles (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Scotland are now three points away from securing a World Cup finals play-off place. They have two games left next month, the first away against Moldova and then at home v group winners Denmark.

Clarke admitted it was an arduous night in the Faroe Isles as Scotland struggled to break down the opposition. A deflected goal from Lyndon Dykes – his fourth in four games – four minutes from time earned a 1-0 win and a priceless three points. VAR took some time to confirm the goal was legitimate after suggestions the ball had hit Dykes’ arm.

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The Faroe Isles passed up at least three good chances to score in the opening half and deserved to be ahead at half-time. But Scotland stuck to their task and had Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon to thank for keeping the score goalless at half-time.

“They caused us one or two problems,” said Clarke. “I am pleased my goalkeeper had the performance he did, one great save and safe hands all night. He kept us from getting too nervous.”

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Clarke credited his players with staying patient and having the required perseverance to see off such stuffy opponents. The same traits were displayed against Israel, who were more intent to take the game to the Scots. Clarke saluted his side’s work ethic after Scotland posted four consecutive wins for the first time in a World Cup qualifying group.

“We are in a good position but we have worked hard to be in this position,” he said. “12 points does not come easy. It is difficult to go four-in-a row at any level, but particularly at international level. It is a big 12 points.

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"We are not going to take our eye off the ball. We know what we have to do next month - try and get the three points that secure that second place. Hopefully we can do that in Moldova and then Denmark at home is a free game.”

Clarke praised goalscorer Dykes, who he grabbed in a hug shortly after the final whistle. The striker is suspended against Moldova after picking up a booking.

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“I gave him a big hug on Saturday as well, he was feeling a bit sad after missing the penalty,” he said. “I always try and make my players feel good when they come off the pitch.

"He scored an important goal for us, no doubt about it. He was attacking that near post space well and it was not all that dissimilar to the goal he scored on Saturday (v Israel) when he got across the first defender – it was a bit nerve-wracking waiting for the VAR but thankfully it fell on our side again.

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“When you get to this stage of the competition all the teams are going to have the same problem, you are going to get two yellows ruling you out. It is the chance for someone else to be the hero next month.”

Ryan Christie is also suspended for next month’s trip to Chisinau after collecting his second booking of the campaign in Torshavn.

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