Hampden heroics

Clarke calls for focus after triumph over Spain

Triumph: Steve Clarke

Euro 2024 qualifier, Group A
Scotland 2 Spain 0
Hampden Park

It’s nearly 40 years since Scotland last defeated Spain and this stunning triumph will be remembered for just as long.

In one of those nights which will be carved in Hampden Park folklore, Steve Clarke’s side swept aside the three-time European champions.

Spain had not lost a Euro qualifying match since October 2014 against Slovakia, winning 17 of 19 previous ties in the process.

The Tartan Army therefore marched on Hampden more in hope than expectation but after Scott McTominay’s glorious double seized control of Group A, there will be real belief among fans that the road to Germany could be paved with gold.

There is a long way to go but after back-to-back wins in Glasgow, a resurgent Scotland lead the group on six points, three ahead of Spain.

Norway, held to a 1-1 draw in Georgia, host Scotland on Saturday, 17 June in Oslo before the Scots head back to Hampden to take on Georgia three days later.

The top two teams qualify directly for the finals in Germany next year.

You have to go back to November 1984 and a World Cup qualifier in Glasgow to find the last time Scotland got the better of Spain.

The famous victory completed a perfect week for boss Clarke, who penned a two-year extension to his contract to take him through to the 2026 World Cup just prior to beating Cyprus in the group opener at the weekend.

“I thought the players were outstanding from first minute to last,” said Clarke.

“The dynamic, enthusiasm and quality of the team didn’t change. It’s a big night, it feels like a step forward, but it’s only six points and you don’t qualify with six points.

“We didn’t have an awful lot of possession, but what we did have, we used very, very well. The defensive shape was good, the distance between the units was really good, which stops a large part of Spain’s game. All the credit goes to the players on the pitch – they’re the guys that have to do the hard yards.

“It was competitive. One bad game can set you back, so we stay focused and keep our feet on the ground.

“I’ll have a couple of quiet days to calm down, and then we start preparing for two big games, because June could be a pivotal month for us.”

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