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Fan view: Steve Clarke didn’t waste time before changing approach against Israel – and Scotland were rewarded for decisiveness

Scotland manager Steve Clarke.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

There is a particular Danish lager brand which has become a byword for hypothetical perfect chains of events. For a few minutes yesterday evening, that nation’s football squad might have been sipping on a few pints of it.

Having marmalised Moldova to extend their lightning start to six points and 10 goals, Denmark were able to sit back and watch their group rivals stutter.

While their fellow citizens from the Faroes were opening a shock lead in Austria, Israel and Scotland were feeling one another out in the predictable manner of a meeting between sides who did not wish to add defeat on the second matchday to a less than ideal result from the first.

But inevitably the Austrians quickly began to right their ship, and the pressure in Tel Aviv intensified.

Whoever conceded first would find themselves in an Ireland-sized heap of trouble barely two hours into their campaign.

As history has taught us to expect, that would be Scotland.

But Steve Clarke is no Stephen Kenny, and he wasted hardly a moment in responding to adversity with a substantial change in approach.

To an extent Clarke was fortunate that, if his team were to lose the first goal, they should do so literally seconds before half-time, giving him 15 minutes to consider his options and weigh the risk against the reward.

Ryan Fraser celebrates his equaliser in Israel

But there is no doubt that withdrawing a defender for an attacker so early was far more bold than almost any predecessor would ever have been; nor that it was a switch which flipped the dynamic of the game.

If anything we may wish that such assertiveness had been shown from the start, but having recovered three deficits in positioning themselves to potentially be in the group’s top two after the first week’s play, it could have been much worse.

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