Scotland boss Steve Clarke thinks the backing of the Tartan Army could have given his side the “extra impetus” behind the last-gasp win over Israel.
Scott McTominay’s injury-time winner capped an exciting night at Hampden, when Scotland came from behind twice to seal a 3-2 victory and take a major step towards sealing second place in their World Cup qualifying group.
The goal came half-way through six minutes of added time in a dramatic match, where Israel had gone ahead after five minutes, were leading 2-1 at half-time and after Lyndon Dykes had missed a penalty and then scored an equaliser that it took a VAR review to confirm.
Clarke said that a full national stadium had made a difference on a big night in Group F and admitted he had enjoyed the celebrations, when he raced from his technical area after McTominay found the net.
“It was a good time to score a goal and nice to celebrate a wee bit with the fans,” he said. “But it was a tough night for us.
“I think the way the game ended is good for everybody. It’s good for the supporters.
“When the six minutes went up for extra time there was a roar went up in the stadium. I don’t know if it gave us a little bit of extra impetus but we managed to score a winning goal in that time. And then at the end of the game you see our players wanting to thank the fans for being back, for being in the stadium and creating that atmosphere.
“I think it’s reciprocated. They want to thank these players who show, every time they go on to the pitch, how well they want to do for their country.”
The head coach admitted he was disappointed with the “soft” goals his side conceded but maintained that Israel were always expected to be difficult opponents. Clarke said that he told the players at half-time: “if you do want to lose the game you are doing it in the perfect fashion.”
He was happier with the second half performance, where he said Scotland controlled the game more and showed “more tempo and more ambition” and is now hoping that the momentum will continue into Tuesday’s match against the Faroe Islands.
Denmark’s 4-0 win over Moldova puts them seven points ahead of Scotland in Group F and makes them runaway leaders and all but confirmed group winners. Scotland’s victory keeps them in pole position for second place and a spot in the play-offs to reach Qatar 2022 but the manager stressed that to achieve that aim, full concentration would be needed to ensure no slip-ups in the Faroes.
“I’ve said it to the players, it is only three points tonight,” he said.
“It was a great night, exciting, we are all happy that we are still in control of the play-off position.
“But now we have to go to the Faroes and make sure that we cement this result with another win, so that’s our goal.”