STEVE Clarke has joked that he would rather Scotland were playing San Marino this weekend and urged his players to remain focused after their stunning 3-0 triumph over Ukraine.

He national team avenged their Qatar 2022 play-off defeat to the Euro 2020 quarter-finalists in June with an emphatic Nations League triumph at Hampden last night.

A second-half John McGinn goal and a brace from substitute Lyndon Dykes sent the home team into first place in Group B1 and increased their chances of topping their section and securing a Euro 2024 play-off spot.

Clarke switched from a back three to a back four and was rewarded for the bold move with an inspired all-round performance which delighted the Tartan Army.

However, the memory of the humiliating 3-0 defeat which Scotland suffered at the hands of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in the summer is still fresh in his memory and he is not getting carried away with the Ukraine result.

“Without being disrespectful, I would rather play San Marino,” he said. “No, listen, it is another game.

“Obviously the Irish have a clear week of preparation. We need to go away and assess again what we did well tonight and look at how the Irish play, because they play a different system.

“We must decide the best way to play the game and hopefully we can have a similar performance and similar result."  

Clarke added: “It was a really good performance and congratulations to the players. We gave them a lot of information in a very short space of time, most of it boring. We took them through a walk-through on the pitch and we had meetings in the meeting room.

"They took it on board and they executed well what we wanted them to do. It was a good game, it was an open game in the first-half with not too many big chances. But in the second-half we got on top and the first goal was always going to be crucial. Thankfully we got it.

“It was a good performance and we were really pleased with it. Now we have to go away and reset for Saturday. We go away and rest and recover and get ready for a tough game against the Republic of Ireland at the weekend.

“Obviously we went out there in the summer and didn't do ourselves justice. We want to do ourselves justice on Saturday."

McGinn, who donned the captain’s armband in the absence of Andy Robertson and netted his 14th international goal in the 70th minute, will win his 50th cap against Ireland.

Clarke is hoping his skipper can mark the occasion by adding to his tally. “Hopefully he can get another on his 50th,” he said.  

Asked about switching from a 3-4-2-1 formation to a 4-2-3-1, Clarke said: “I’ve been saying for a while I want a squad capable of playing more than one system.

“We had a lot of good results playing three at the back. I just felt tonight we needed to occupy the wider areas of the pitch a little bit better – that was the thinking.

“It was easy to talk about, but the players have to execute it. The back four was good. There were no shots to speak of, we defended well and had good pace at the back. That allows you to press a little bit higher up the pitch. It worked well on this one, we have to make sure it works just as well in the next one.”