Scotland striker Oli Burke said that the players refused to panic when Cyprus rattled in a late equaliser that threatened to cause lasting damage to the Euro qualifying campaign.
The devastating blow landed by Ioannis Kousoulos in 86th minute rocked the home side but, netting his first Scotland goal, substitute Burke responded quickly to quell the disappointment and give them the win that sends them into the midweek match with Belgium in positive mood.
“It was a fantastic moment and I’m completely overwhelmed,” said the striker, who responded quickest when his header rebounded back to him with just two minutes of the match remaining. “It was such an important moment and such an important victory for us.
“It all happened so quickly. It just bounced out to me after my initial header. I gave myself an assist which is a bit strange! But it was such a big relief when the ball came back off the post and I was in the right place.”
Hitting back so swiftly after Andy Robertson’s opening goal was cancelled out by the visitors, reflected well on the new manager Steve Clarke and the positive mood he has engineered in the camp, according to Burke, who is now hoping he will be rewarded with a starting place against Belgium on Tuesday.
“When their late goal went in there was a sense of deflation but it also gave us a kick. It made us realise how vital getting three points was.
“We had been in total control throughout but we let it slip in that moment. It would have been hard to take had we let it slip out of our hands. Luckily we got the goal and thankfully it was me who managed to put it in the net.
“We have had a really good training week and we all bonded together. We showed that in the difficult moments. We stuck together and didn’t panic.
“It gives us massive confidence heading into the next game. But we know what their qualities are and how tough a test they will pose. But, after that display we also know how good we can be.”
With Scotland still looking for a striker to establish himself as the first choice starter, 22-year-old Burke aided his chances and, instructed to press the play, hit on the counter and use his pace and strength to upset the Cypriot defence, he got the reward.
“It is a goal I will cherish forever. ‘It is definitely up there. Probably one of the best feelings I have had as a footballer. Getting another against Belgium would be even better. I am obviously hoping to kick forward now and do my best. I am going to work as hard as I can and put the shifts in at training and make sure I’m ready for the next game.
“Whoever is in place to step forward and play that striker role has to be ready and be prepared to do the work because it is obviously a very tough job up top on your own. You have to put a shift in.
“Of course, I’d like to play there in Belgium. It would be an amazing opportunity.”