Clarke used 15 players on a memorable night in Vienna and he pointed out that many of those who have contributed to Scotland’s best away result since the 1-0 victory over France in Paris 14 years ago played in the Scottish Premiership.
“Every player was exceptional, including the substitutes who entered the pitch,” he said. “Paul McGinn Hibs, Lewis Ferguson Aberdeen, Kevin Nisbet Hibs, Stephen O’Donnell Motherwell… it’s a good sprinkling and all the mainstays and big names. It’s a good pinch of players in the Scottish Premiership, I really like it.
Craig Gordon was also instrumental in his 60th appearance, saving a header from Christian Baumgartner 11 minutes from time to preserve the lead gained from Lyndon Dykes’ first-half penalty. The 38-year-old Hearts goalkeeper made a remarkable comeback as Scotland’s first choice – he was in the goal for the win over France in a Euro 2008 qualifier in September 2007.
“The number of times they put the ball into the box, they’d end up having good contact on it and that’s when you need your goalie – and that’s why Craig Gordon plays still at 38, a better goalie makes the big save when we need it, ”said Clarke.
The manager was not too hot under the collar about the pivotal moment of the match which saw Scotland receive a penalty after VAR intervened following a Martin Hinteregger challenge on Che Adams in the surface.
The defender of Eintracht Frankfurt had just been cautioned for a savage tackle, but as Bulgarian referee Georgi Kabakov gave the penalty when he considered the challenge, he failed to deliver the expected second yellow card which would have ended Hinteregger’s involvement with over an hour to go.
“I’m not sure what the rules are, and I’m not going to complain now that we have the penalty of a VAR decision and we won the game with that penalty,” said Clarke. “If someone says the rules are different and the guy should have been kicked out….
“I’m not a big fan of double jeopardy, I think it was a foul, maybe should have been a yellow – I’m not sure about the red. I don’t know the rules.
Clarke now wants Scotland to focus on the work at hand. There are four games left. Next month’s doubles schedule will start with a home clash against Israel, which has slipped to third in the group after losing 5-0 to Denmark. Scotland then moves on to old enemies, the Faroe Islands.
“It just means the next game is another cup final,” Clarke said. “We have to keep taking points.
“The important thing was to get something out of the game. We managed to come here and have a good performance, a good football performance when we passed the ball well and passed the ball well. We are not a long ball team. This is how some people try to label us. We can play. “