STEVE CLARKE has hit back at Scotland’s critics after a hugely impressive win in Austria got his side’s World Cup dreams back on track.

Clarke had bristled at criticism his side received after the loss to Denmark last week, and after Lyndon Dykes’ penalty had given the Scots a massive three points in Vienna, he pointed the finger at those he feels do not believe in his team for not giving his men due credit.

But Clarke has called for the Tartan Army to get right behind Scotland when Israel come to Glasgow next month as they look to press home their claim for a World Cup play-off spot.

“Listen, some people in the country don’t really believe in this group of players, but I do,” Clarke said. “I love my players, I trust them everywhere we go.

“We know we’re a good team, we know we’re a good group, we’re trying to grow together and we’re looking forward to getting a full house at Hampden for the next game. And the Tartan Army will get right behind us.

“It means that the next game is another cup final. Tonight was a cup final, we needed three points, we got three points. We’ve got Israel at home, we want three points, and that’s what we’ll play for.

“We wanted to get as many points as we could, we got six, and I think that’s a decent return for the week.

“We went to Denmark with Covid disruption, injury disruption, we went two goals down early in the game. We dug in, we found a way into the game which I thought showed great character from the players.

“We lost the game, we got criticised. I couldn’t say too much after the game, but Israel went there tonight and got beat five.

“We are a good team. I repeat, we are a good team. We’ve got a great squad of players, and everybody involved with the group wants to do well for their country.

“It’s not about a siege mentality, we know we’re a good team. We just want to go out and play, we want to go out on the front foot, and we want to get the credit we deserve.”

Clarke also took issue with the pre-match comments of opposite manager Franco Foda, with the Austrian dismissing Scotland’s hopes and deriding their style of play.

“Some people want to label us long ball, but we got it down, we passed the ball,” Clarke said.

“We’re not a long-ball team, we can do both. If we have to play the long ball, we can win the second ball, but if we have to get it down and play we can pass it as well.

“We created a lot of chances in the game and maybe could have got one or two more.

“Obviously at times you have to defend when you are under a little bit of pressure away from home, but we showed great character to defend the box well.”

Clarke said that the crucial penalty kick awarded to Scotland on the night was justified, even if it took VAR to point the foul on Che Adams by Martin Hinteregger out to the on-field officials.

“At ground level it was difficult to see,” he said. “But the officials got it right, it was a penalty, and Dykesy managed to squeeze it through and get it in the back of the net. It was important.

“It was a good performance. It’s a difficult place to come.

“We said it was a pivotal week I the group and we’ve come out with six points, so it’s satisfactory.”