Steve Clarke singles out Liverpool's Andy Robertson after Scotland's 2-0 win over Armenia
Anthony Ralston and Scott McKenna scored Scotland’s goals in the first half as they defeated Armenia 2-0, topping the embryonic Group B1 table ahead of Ukraine who defeated Republic of Ireland 1-0 in Dublin.
The Scots travel to face the Irish on Saturday before their return fixture against Armenia in Yerevan next Tuesday.
Scotland missed several chances for a more emphatic margin of victory but it was a positive response after their 3-1 defeat at home to Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final last week.
Clarke handed much of the credit for the urgency of their display to Robertson and suggested the Liverpool left-back does not receive sufficient recognition for his attributes as a skipper.
“I’ve got to mention the captain,” he said. “He was outstanding in the game. He was outstanding in the dressing room before the game. Himself, John McGinn and Callum McGregor are leaders, taking us onto the pitch in a good frame of mind.
“It was three good performances from them but I thought the captain was exceptional.
“Just in general, being a captain and leader is something Andy has grown into. It’s something which doesn’t get mentioned as it should do. Captains are important at this time in the dressing room. People you are looking to step up.
“It was good – the way we approached the game, the speed of the ball, taking up the right positions against a very defensive team.
“We knew we’d have to work hard to break them down and that’s what we did. We kept trying the right thing at the right time and eventually we got the goals.
“Professional athletes have to move on. You can’t think about the last one, you have to think about the next one. The next one for us was the Nations League campaign and we’ve got off to a good start.
“The key was to keep the tempo in the game, keep the rhythm of the game and keep looking for the weak spots.
“Eventually, we opened them up. We knew it wouldn’t be easy. They are a good team and showed a threat on the counter attack. It was a good result and a good performance, hopefully the start of another unbeaten run.
“I think it means our preparation was pretty good. Some people might have looked and asked why I gave them a couple of nights off after the Ukraine match.
“It was just to freshen the mind. I knew they would be up for the game. They wanted to start another unbeaten run and do well in the Nations League.
“Every time they turn up for their country they want to do well.”
Clarke was also gratified by Ralston’s contribution as the Celtic full-back scored his first goal for Scotland in his first starting appearance.
“I thought he was good in the game but I had no real doubts about Tony because he plays for Celtic and they come against opposition who sit in and defend,” said Clarke.
“So I knew he would find the right positions on the pitch.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.