Steve Clarke watched Scotland move one step closer to Euro 2024 with a 3-0 win over Cyprus but claimed the best part of the night was a late block from Ryan Porteous to keep a clean sheet.
Scott McTominay opened the scoring in Larnaca in the sixth minute with his sixth goal in five qualifying games before defender Porteous scored his first international goal with a volley nine minutes later.
McTominay set up midfielder John McGinn for a third after 29 minutes and although the Scots were quiet in the second half, Porteous dived from full length in stoppage time to stop a Cyprus shot that tested Angus Gunn.
“Best moment of the game for me,” said Clarke
“It shows everyone what we’re all about. We didn’t want to concede a goal.
“We talked at half-time about maybe getting four or five, but the most important thing is that Cyprus keeps a clean sheet and that block at the end says everything about this team and the mentality they have.”
“It was good, another step towards what we want to achieve, which is to qualify.
“It was a good performance, goals in the first half, well controlled in the second half. We have to be happy.
“It showed they were ready for the game. It was nice on an evening like this when it was hot and humid. You could take the lead so you didn’t have to chase the game. ”
The Scots have won five times in five Group A qualifying games and are nine points ahead of Spain after two more games.
Scotland hosts England on Tuesday evening in a special 150th anniversary match. If Norway and Georgia draw in their qualifying match on the same evening, the Scots will have reached the European Championships for the second year in a row.
Clarke’s side still have games against Spain, Georgia and Norway ahead of them and the coach remains hesitant to look further ahead than Tuesday.
He said: “I’m pleased the fans can enjoy another win. I’m glad you think you can book your flights.
“Fans can do whatever they want, they can be enthusiastic, they can get carried away
“We have to focus on what we want. If 15 points is enough, we will find our goal later.
“I’m happy for the players and of course it’s good for me to be the head coach of a number of talented players. But let’s make sure we qualify, then we’ll work on the next goal.
“We played five games and got 15 points, that’s good.
“I would like to think we would get more points in the last three games. We just keep trying to push ourselves and not be complacent. We are in a good position.”
Cyprus head coach Temuri Ketsbaia had no complaints about the defeat, which left his side without points in four Group A games.
The former Newcastle, Wolves and Dundee player said through an interpreter: “We lost to a better team, everything was done in 10 minutes in the first half.”
“It was a fair result.
“We managed to improve in the second half but the game was over at half time.
“We lost against a top-class team. We needed a greater commitment from the whole team, not just four or five players, you need more.”