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Clarke hails his ‘fantastic’ players after Scotland sealed promotion to the top tier of the Nations League

Steve Clarke hails his ‘fantastic’ players after Scotland overcame injuries and a sickness bug to earn a goalless draw with Ukraine and seal promotion to the top tier of the Nations League

  • Scotland secured a point to seal promotion to Pool A of the Nations League
  • They were plagued by all sorts of injuries and disease problems in the build-up
  • Clarke praised the defensive heroics of Ryan Porteous and Jack Hendry

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Steve Clarke paid tribute to his Scotland heroes after they secured Nations League glory against Ukraine in Krakow.

Plagued by all sorts of injury and illness problems in the build-up, the Scots fought magnificently despite being down to the bone. Clarke particularly praised the defensive heroics of Ryan Porteous and Jack Hendry, branding the pair ‘outstanding’.

Hibs star Porteous, making his international debut, was huge at the back alongside Hendry as Scotland got the point they needed to win their group.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke celebrates with John McGinn after the draw in Ukraine

Scotland boss Steve Clarke celebrates with John McGinn after the draw in Ukraine

They have now moved up to Group A and have the safety net of a play-off for Euro 2024 to fall back on.

They will also go into Pot Two of the main European qualifying draw – and Clarke was pleased with the effort his players showed.

“We wanted to show people that what happened in the summer was not us”, he said, referring to defeats to Ukraine and Ireland in the World Cup play-offs and Nations League respectively.

‘We wanted to be better this week. We pressed a big button to reset. Three great performances, all different but all vital.

Clarke and his coaching staff were delighted to get a hard-earned draw on Tuesday night

Clarke and his coaching staff were delighted to get a hard-earned draw on Tuesday night

Clarke and his coaching staff were delighted to get a hard-earned draw on Tuesday night

‘Ryan Porteous was excellent for a debut. I am so happy for the boy, it shows that he is listening, that he is learning.

‘I’m so happy for Jack Hendry too – that was a big question for Jack. Everyone expects Callum McGregor and John McGinn to play three games with that intensity.

‘But I had to ask Jack to do it again – he was struggling a bit with a cold but he was excellent in all three games.

‘Ukraine is a very good team, we knew they would have moments in the game and ask Craig [Gordon] to make saves – he did that as he always does.’

Scotland fought hard to earn a goalless draw against Ukraine to secure Nations League promotion

Scotland fought hard to earn a goalless draw against Ukraine to secure Nations League promotion

Scotland fought hard to earn a goalless draw against Ukraine to secure Nations League promotion

Scotland will be among the big guns of European football as they advance to Group A of the Nations League.

Tuesday night’s goalless draw in Krakow capped off an excellent week for Clarke’s side on the back of wins over Ukraine and Ireland at Hampden.

Clarke was delighted to see his players show reluctance and desire to overcome a sickness bug which had ripped through the camp on the eve of the match.

He also insisted that Scotland should seek to qualify for the next European Championship directly rather than relying on the play-offs.

Stuart Armstrong hit the air at the final whistle as Scotland got the result they needed

Stuart Armstrong hit the air at the final whistle as Scotland got the result they needed

Stuart Armstrong hit the air at the final whistle as Scotland got the result they needed

‘Sometimes it can encourage you. Maybe I over-egged it a bit to encourage us,’ he said. ‘It was a big night for us. We wanted to win the section.

‘I sat down with my staff and said we should be more demanding of the players (after the summer). Desperate to do well for their country, these players have taken it on board.

‘I told them to take us to the next step to make sure we do it. This will make us feel good about ourselves. The followers too. The connection between players and supporters is fantastic.

‘I won’t stop. We will keep getting better and better. The play-offs are assured, but I don’t think we’ll need it.’

Scotland put in a fighting performance to get the point they needed in Krakow

Scotland put in a fighting performance to get the point they needed in Krakow

Scotland put in a fighting performance to get the point they needed in Krakow

Craig Gordon stood firm as Ukraine pushed for a second-half winner

Craig Gordon stood firm as Ukraine pushed for a second-half winner

Craig Gordon stood firm as Ukraine pushed for a second-half winner