Steve Clarke hailed the leadership qualities of captain Andy Robertson following Scotland’s 2-0 win over Armenia at Hampden Park.
A week after 2022 World Cup hopes ended with a demoralising defeat to Ukraine in the play-off semi-final at the national stadium, the Scots had to host the Armenians in their Nations League Group B1 opener.
Celtic full-back Anthony Ralston, making his first Scotland start, headed home in the 28th minute before Nottingham Forest defender Scott McKenna doubled that lead with a header from a corner five minutes from the break.
Clarke, who made six changes, revealed that Liverpool left-back Robertson had played a true captain’s part on and off the park.
He said: “It was important to refresh it and also important for the boys who played last week and had to go again.
“I have to mention the captain, I thought he was outstanding.
“He was outstanding in the dressing room before the game, himself, John McGinn, Callum McGregor, leaders, taking us on the pitch in a good frame of mind and with three good performances.
“But I thought the captain was exceptional. It was just in general, as a captain, leader.
“It is a role that Andy has really grown into and sometimes he doesn’t quite get the mentions that maybe he should do.
“And captains are important at this time, people you are looking for to step up, John McGinn, Callum McGregor that was important as well.”
Clarke was happy to see Ralston and McKenna both getting off the mark with Scotland and indeed the latter would have had a double had he not been offside when he knocked the ball over the line again just before the break.
Clarke said: “I had no real doubts about Tony because he plays for Celtic and they come up against opposition who sit and defend and make it difficult for them.
“I knew he would find the right position on the pitch and certainly when he got the goal it was definitely the right position.
“Scott did well, I thought the whole back-three did well as a unit and obviously for Scott to get the goal.
“If he hadn’t been quite so impetuous and got himself half a step offside he would have had a double tonight. It was a good night for everyone.”
Clarke was pleased with a number of aspects of Scotland’s play against a side ranked 92nd in the world.
He said: “The way we approached the game, the speed of ball. We took up the right positions against a very defensive team.
“We knew we had to work hard to break them down and that’s what we did. We kept trying the right thing at the right times and eventually we got the goals.”