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Clarke sees real progress from Scotland since Russia defeat

The 1-0 win over the Czech Republic is the latest stage in the manager's revival of the team.

Clarke sees real progress from Scotland since Russia defeat SNS Group

Scotland boss Steve Clarke believes his side have shown determination to improve since the 4-0 defeat in Russia that he marked as a low point.

That loss last October was the national team’s most recent defeat and has been followed by an unbeaten run that was extended to eight games as Scotland beat Czech Republic 1-0.

Ryan Fraser was Scotland’s goal hero but Clarke’s side had to dig in to resist Czech attacks in the second half and stretch their lead in the Nations League group.

The Scotland manager felt that the game showed the hard work that had gone into reversing a poor run of form.

“It’s a slow process,” Clarke said. “It’s a process that probably started at the Luzhniki last October when we lost heavily.

“We spoke at length after that game about making sure it was the low point and we would build from there.

“Eight games unbeaten later I think you can say that we’ve managed to do that.

“The players have more confidence now and they feel better. I always say about international football that the more caps you get the better you become. That’s proven to be the case.”

The win, which Clarke characterised as “gritty”, competed a hat-trick of victories in the international break, following the play-off victory over Israel and the 1-0 win over Slovakia.

“We wanted a big month at home and we knew that three home games was important,” the manager said. “We knew it was important to beat Israel and be in the play-off final and we managed to achieve that. But we were also determined that after the Israel game we weren’t going to talk about Serbia because we wanted to concentrate on these two matches.”

After the play-off final against Serbia next month that could see Scotland qualify for Euro 2020, the Nations League campaign will conclude with games against Israel and Slovakia. Two points from the double-header would see Scotland win Group B2.

“We felt there was a chance to pick up at least four points if not six this week,” Clarke said. “We’ve managed to get the maximum and that puts us in a really good position.

“It gives us a chance to win it and get promotion into the A group which is where we want to be, challenging ourselves against the top teams.

“It’s the only way we will improve and it will improve our standing in the rankings and hopefully come the next World Cup draw we get a favourable draw.”