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Scotland boss Steve Clarke proud of his Wembley heroes as they resurrect Euro 2020 campaign

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke.
Scotland head coach Steve Clarke.

Boss Steve Clarke insists he is proud of his Scotland squad as they resurrected their Euro 2020 campaign at Wembley.

The national manager reckons the Scots also silenced critics who had written them off after the opening day Group D loss to Czech Republic.

Scotland now face Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday evening and a win will see the Scots make history by progressing from the groups for the first time.

No Scotland team has ever reached the second phase of a major tournament in 10 previous attempts.

Clarke reckons they now have a ‘genuine chance’.

The national gaffer was bursting with pride as his squad underlined their strength on the platform of a major tournament against one of the Euro 2020 favourites.

Scotland were the better team and were unfortunate not to secure a win with Lyndon Dykes’ second half shot cleared off the line.

Scotland’s Kieran Tierney (left) and Kevin Nisbet at full time

Clarke said: “I am proud of them.

“We have a genuine chance of qualifying from the group.

“It is going to be a big game against Croatia on Tuesday and I hope the fans enjoy the night and get back home safely.

“I am also pleased for my players because I think we were criticised a little bit too much after the result on Monday against the Czech Republic.

“We have been improving for a long time so it was nice to see the boys play like that on the pitch.

“The most pleasing thing was that we played so well.”

Scotland fans celebrate at full time at Wembley.

Bring on World Cup finalists Croatia

Asked if the criticism after that Group D opener was a motivating factor in the performance, Clarke said: “No.

“The motivating factor was to get something out of the game so that we could go into the last match with a chance of qualifying out of the group.

“We played well.

“Obviously we had to be solid defensively and work really hard when England had the ball to stop them creating chances they will always create.

“That side was pleasing but it was also pleasing we could play from the back and play through midfield.”

Scotland celebrate at full time after securing a draw at Wembley against England.

Praise for Stephen O’Donnell after unfair criticism following Czech defeat

Pushed on by a 2,600 strong Tartan Army the Scots rose to the occasion in a game they could not afford to lose.

The Tartan Army were in full party mode when the referee blew for full time and that will have continued with the thousands more in London who travelled down without tickets – and those supporters watching from back home.

Jubilant. Scotland fans celebrate at full time at Wembley.

Clarke said:  “We knew we had to come here and suffer a little bit out of possession but I was absolutely delighted with the way we played with the ball as well.

“I have said for a long time that we are a good team.

“I thought we showed the real Scotland on Monday (against Czech Republic) and we were harshly criticised for it.

“We have a really good group of players and they showed that again tonight.

“They have been a team for the best part of 18 months.

“I was hoping Stephen O’Donnell would score because he was very unfairly criticised the other night.

“His performance tonight was outstanding and if he had scored that goal it would have been justice for the boy as he is a good player.”

Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour was superb in his first start for Scotland.

Billy Gilmour – the future of Scottish football

Clarke went with the bold move of pitching in Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour for his first senior international start.

It was a masterstroke as the 20-year-old was superb in the heart of midfield.

It completed a remarkable few weeks for Gilmour who recently secured a Champions League winners’ medal with Chelsea.

Clarke said Gilmour is the future of Scottish football.

Scotland players embrace at the close of the game. Picture by PA.

He said: “It was nice for Billy to get that start.

“It was a big stage for Billy and I have said for a long time he is part of the future of Scottish football.

“He is a really top player.

“We know what he has got.

“Unfortunately his legs ran out on him a little bit towards the end but he doesn’t get much football at Chelsea.

“He trained well in the group and it was nice to get him on the pitch.”

Gilmour sent a text to his parents from the team bus to tell them he was starting

Gilmour revealed he only found out late on that he would get his first start.

And the only people he told were his mum and dad, via text, whilst travelling on the team bus to Wembley.

Gilmour said: “It was a great performance from the team as we came here with a game plan and stuck to it really well.

“I am so proud to start my first game and to play so well is even better.

“It gives us massive confidence for the next game against Croatia.

“We will now focus on them and we know what we have to do.

“My mum and dad only knew I was starting as I text them on the bus to the game.

“The fans were incredible singing from the first minute to the last.

“They gave us a huge boost and we knew we had to go onto the pitch to give them what they wanted.”

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