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The Scots exacted a measure of revenge on Ukraine with a comprehensive 3-0 victory nearly four months after the crushing World Cup semi-final play-off defeat in June.
It was a very different story in Glasgow this time around as Scotland turned the tables with a powerful performance led by stand-in skipper John McGinn, who scored the opening goal on his 49th cap. Scotland have nine points after four games and sit on top of Group B1.
Now Clarke has charged Scotland with the task of redressing another disappointing result from the summer – a 3-0 defeat in Dublin.
“It was a good performance and we were really pleased with it,” said Clarke. “Now we have to go away and reset for Saturday.
“We go away and rest and recover and get ready for a tough game against the Republic of Ireland at the weekend. Obviously we went out there in the summer and didn’t do ourselves justice. We want to do ourselves justice on Saturday.
Clarke switched to a back four against Ukraine and although Scotland endured some uncomfortable moments in the first half, they held the upper hand in the second 45 minutes. Che Adams hit the bar with a header before goals in the last 20 minutes from McGinn and a double from Lyndon Dykes handed Scotland a handsome win at a packed Hampden.
Asked if Republic of Ireland were the perfect visitors this weekend, given the side’s appetite for revenge, he quipped: “Without being disrespectful, I would rather play San Marino…!”
He added: “No, listen, it is another game. Obviously, the Irish have a clear week of preparation. We need to go away and assess again what we did well tonight and look at how the Irish play, because they play a different system and decide the best way to play the game and hopefully we can have a similar performance and similar result.”
Clarke agreed it had been a risk reverting to a back four after favouring a back three for so long. “You guys would have caned me if I’d got it wrong!” he said.
He praised the performance of centre-back pairing Scott McKenna and Jack Hendry. There was one major negative on an otherwise memorable night. Right back Nathan Patterson was carried off after injuring his knee in a collision with Ruslan Malinovskyi. He is now out of Saturday’s clash with Republic of Ireland and next Tuesday’s re-match with Ukraine. There are fears the Everton player could face a long spell on the sidelines.
“He has to go away and get assessed,” said Clarke. “It does not look like a good one. Fingers crossed it is not too bad.”
Scotland have cover in the right back area in Aaron Hickey, who came on in place of Patterson and played superbly, and Anthony Ralston. But Clarke revealed he will bring in a replacement in for Celtic midfielder David Turnbull, who has left the squad with an ankle injury.
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