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Clarke praises player commitment in tough win over Czechs

The Scotland manager said his side were "on a hiding to nothing" in Olomouc.

Clarke praises player commitment in tough win over Czechs SNS

Steve Clarke has chosen to highlight the positives after Scotland’s 2-1 win over Czech Republic, despite a disjointed performance.

The national team were taking on a Czech side made up of second-choice players after a coronavirus outbreak forced their football association to pick an entirely new squad at short notice.

The hosts took a shock lead in Olomouc before goals from Lyndon Dykes and Ryan Christie ensured three points for Scotland in the Nations League match.

Clarke acknowledged that his side had been heavy favourites to win and had been under pressure more than expected but said that the main objective had been reached.

He told Sky Sports: “The first thing you start with is the Czech Republic. I’ve got to pay the coach and the players a big compliment.

“It would have been a fairy-tale night for them – for us, we were always on a hiding to nothing. Everyone told us before the start of the game we had to win the game so we won the game, we take the three points and go home.

“To concede the first goal is not ideal, it gives life to the opposition. After that we reacted well, scored a fantastic goal, pleased to see Lyndon get on the scoresheet.

“The second half, we got our noses in front, again a good switch of play, we got Andy in the box, it was a penalty and Ryan did what he did so both strikers scored which is good.

“You have to look at last 15 minutes of the game in a different context. We were under the cosh, they can throw bodies forward, they have nothing to lose.

“We lacked a little bit of quality to get the third on the counter-attack which would have taken the sting out of the situation. But the way we defended, getting the blocks in and bodies on the line, shows a big commitment from the lads to their country. They knew they had to get a result for their country and they did everything to get it.”

Scotland captain Andy Robertson had a similar view, pointing out that he and his teammates had faced uncertainty in the build-up.

“It was far from ideal for them but it wasn’t ideal for us,” he said. “Friday we came out of the (Israel) game thinking it’s cancelled and then Saturday it was uncertain and on Sunday we had to focus on the game.

“It was not ideal but we dealt with it, dealt with the cards we were given, but we’ve got the three points and we are top of the group.

“We were on a hiding to nothing. People would have found negatives in whatever we had done tonight but I am not really bothered. That’s five unbeaten so let’s take some positives.”