Steve Clarke claimed comeback goal hero John Souttar was the story of Scotland’s thrilling 2-0 win over Denmark which secured home advantage in the first World Cup qualifying play-off game in March.
The Hearts defender had suffered injury problems including a relapse of an Achilles issue since winning his first three caps in 2018 and he was a late call-up to the squad for the final Group F game against the Danes, the runaway winners of the section.
Scotland were already assured of second place and a play-off spot but on a remarkable night at Hampden Park, Souttar headed the home side in front after 35 minutes and Che Adams struck late on, ensuring Scotland will be seeded for the draw later this month, with a home game in the semi-final assured.
So happy for this man! What he’s been through and to come back in and put in a performance like that tells you everything you need to know about him 💙 the celebration is back 👀💙 @JohnSouttarpic.twitter.com/jQcD98TTKx— Andy Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) November 15, 2021
Clarke said: “John Souttar can be the story tonight.
“To come back from the injuries John had, over a long period of time, it was a bonus – and I know how happy he was – just to be in the squad, and to get the chance to play tonight.
“And to play the way he did – the goal was the icing on the cake for me – his performance was outstanding, so congratulations to John.
“I gave him a big hug as he came off.
“It was quite emotional, you understand when you have been a player yourself and been involved in the game for so long how difficult it is to come back so I am delighted for him.”
"We wanted to finish the campaign on a high and we've managed to do that."— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) November 15, 2021
It was a sixth successive win for Scotland and Clarke insists he was confident that his side were well set to try to hand the Euro 2020 semi-finalists their first defeat after nine Group F wins.
He said: “We knew coming into it we were in a good place.
“We wanted a good performance to finish what has been a good campaign, we managed to do that in front of a fantastic Hampden crowd. A good night for everybody.
“The performance level with and without the ball over 90 minutes was really good. We felt it was important to try to get the win that would secure the home play-off in the first leg. We will see what the draw is and who we get.
“Six wins in a row is no mean feat and now unfortunately for me we go into a long hibernation.
“It means that everybody can come back here in March in a good frame of mind and pick up where we left off.”
Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand was magnanimous in defeat to a side they had beaten comfortably 2-0 in Copenhagen.
He said: “A big congratulations to Scotland and my colleague Steve Clarke and his players, they deserved to win and be number two.
“I hope for the best in March for them, hopefully we will see each other again in Qatar.
“We have seen progression from the Scottish team, they have done a quality job. We didn’t show our best and Scotland deserved to win.
“So, mixed emotions, not our best but what a year for Danish football, it has been a ride, a long journey.
“I am happy with nine out of 10 wins and happy to be in the World Cup.”
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1