Ryan Porteous believes the Tartan Army have every right to be excited about Scotland’s Euro 2024 prospects but insists the squad must remain focused.
The 24-year-old Watford centre-back scored his first international goal in the assured 3-0 win over Cyprus in Larnaca on Friday night as Steve Clarke’s side made it five Group A qualifying wins from their first five fixtures.
The close-range strike was sandwiched in between Scott McTominay’s sixth goal in five games and a delightful finish from midfielder John McGinn – his 17th for Scotland – with the several thousand travelling fans singing about reaching Germany next summer.
Scotland take on England in a special 150th anniversary heritage match at Hampden Park on Tuesday night and if Norway and Georgia draw their qualifier in Oslo the same evening then the Scots will have reached their second successive European Championship – with games against Spain, Georgia and Norway still to come to finish the job if required.
Porteous said: “We have always been dreaming about getting there, from before the games started.
“The fans have every right to be excited. There’s probably been a lot of times before with Scotland teams when they’ve not been.
“They can look forward and get carried away but we as a group have to stay level-headed because we have a big game on Tuesday and a lot of big games coming up.”
Clarke insisted his favourite moment of the night at the AEK Arena was when Porteous threw himself in stoppage time to block a Cyprus shot and keep a clean sheet.
The former Hibernian defender was also pleased with keeping the home side out but enjoyed his first goal in dark blue.
“The manager said my tackle was better than my goal,” he said.
“It was a dream come true to get my goal.
“It fell to me nicely and I have seen them missed a lot of time but luckily enough it went in. I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity for my first Scotland goal. It was a brilliant feeling.
“I should probably have got one against Georgia with my header.
“Austin McPhee (coach) was at me to get one against Cyprus and luckily enough I did.
“The manager was on at us at half-time to keep a clean sheet.
“He said that was most important thing, that’s what he wanted because you win the game after that.
“It is a great group to be involved in and long may it continue.”
McGinn believes the victory was “a huge three points” for Scotland but he also urged caution.
He said: “It is hard to keep a lid on it but we are going to have to. Mathematically we are not there yet.
“Obviously there’s a game on Tuesday which could decide whether they qualify or not.
“And then if Norway or Georgia win then we go to Spain (in the next qualifier) so as much as we are extremely excited, we’ve put ourselves in a great position, we are not quite there yet.
“We are so, so close, but we are not there yet.”