Steve Clarke praised his players for proving they have resilience after stemming a run of four defeats with a biggest-ever victory over San Marino.
It might not be much to write home about but it hands the Scotland manager, pictured inset, some much-needed respite before next month’s double header against Cyprus and Kazakhstan.
Scotland can now leapfrog Cyprus into third place with a win there on 16 November. They complete a nevertheless deeply disappointing campaign three days later at home against Kazkakhstan before attention turns to the Euro 2020 play-offs in March.
Clarke was delighted with the reaction to Thursday night’s 4-0 defeat against Russia in Moscow, when he had detected fragility in his side. He also expressed his appreciation for the turnout on a foul night in Glasgow.
A crowd of 20,699 saw John McGinn score a first-half hat-trick after fears the turnout could be as low as 10,000.
Dundee United’s Lawrence Shankland scored on his first start for his country and Kilmarnock’s Stuart Findlay struck with a header on his debut. Stuart Armstrong then added a sixth from a free-kick three minutes before the end.
“They showed me tonight that they have a resilient streak,” said Clarke. “It’s been a tough week for us and it was important that we won the game tonight and it was important that we won well,” he said.
“And by the way, 20,000 people, everyone told me there was going to be no attendance! There were a lot of young ones there and they have seen their national team score six goals at home so hopefully they will come back to the next game.”
Clarke was particularly happy that an inexperienced team totalling just 113 caps at kick-off had handled the pressure of dealing with awkward opponents whose main ambition was to pack the defence. San Marino’s three previous visits to Hampden before last night had ended in two 4-0 defeats and one 5-0 reversal.
Their best hope yesterday seemed to lie in the potential for the Group I fixture to be abandoned. A deluge before and during the game saw puddles form on the pitch and meant the ball was being held up on the turf.
But French referee Jerome Brisard was happy to let the match run its course. San Marino manager Franco Varrella had no complaints. “The ball seemed to be bouncing,” he said. “If the match had been abandoned, it would have been good for us. But all in all, it was not bad enough for that.”
Clarke concurred: “For European games I’ve ever been involved in it takes something really, really bad for the referee to stop a game. The ball was moving well enough.
“There were bits of the pitch that were very sticky but we dealt with it and we got the six goals. 6-0 is a decent result. It’s not very often a Scottish team will score six goals.”