Ryan Fraser’s early goal ensured Scotland finished the international period with three victories as they defeated Czech Republic 1-0 at Hampden Park.
Fraser’s goal in under six minutes was all that Scotland required, as another diligent defensive performance extended their unbeaten run to eight games.
The three points also ensures Scotland retain their place at the top of Nations League group B2, with their final two fixtures – away to Slovakia and Israel – coming after the Euro 2020 play-off final against Serbia.
Clarke made three changes from the 1-0 win over Slovakia, with Andy Robertson (suspended), John Fleck and Kenny McLean replaced by Greg Taylor, Callum McGregor and Ryan Jack.
The Czechs started none of the side that lost 2-1 to the Scots in Olomouc last month, which saw them required to call-up an entirely new squad after the entirety of the original selection had to isolate. West Ham pair Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal both started, as did Sevilla stopper Tomas Vaclik.
Less than six minutes into the game, Vaclik was picking the ball out of his net. Lyndon Dykes, collecting the ball from Stephen O’Donnell, kept his footing after being knocked off stride by a heavy challenge. His ball through to Fraser was perfect and the Newcastle winger made it count with a tidy finish.
It took just six minutes for Scotland to open their account and for a period of about 10 minutes, the hosts looked comfortable. But then they started to live dangerously, with Matej Vydra missing a glaring opportunity from Coufal’s cross and the same forcing Declan Gallagher into a tangle. Scotland escaped with their lead intact.
They may have felt they should have been further ahead at half-time. Gallagher’s superb block tackle allowed him to feed McGinn, who ignored the obvious pass to Dykes and instead threaded in Fraser, who was in a more dangerous position. He had the legs on the Czech defence but unfortunately not the finish, as it angled over Vaclik and the crossbar.
If the away side were going to get back into the game then Vydra looked the most likely outlet, clipping wide from an acute angle five minutes into the second half. Marshall was then called into action, beating away a Soucek header volleyball-style to keep his clean sheet intact.
The tiring Dykes was replaced by Oli McBurnie with 25 minutes to go and goalscorer Fraser made way for McLean, as Scotland bedded in for the closing period. Hibernian defender Paul Hanlon made his international debut as a late substitute.
Hearts were in mouths with a late Soucek miss that defied belief, as the midfielder scooped over from six yards, while McBurnie rattled the crossbar with a spectacular dipping effort from 25 yards.
While there were a few nervy moments, Scotland held their lead and will take a huge amount of confidence into the Serbia showdown on November 12.