Super substitute Lyndon Dykes scored a late double as Scotland advanced impressively to the top of their Nations League group with a thumping 3-0 win over Ukraine at Hampden Park.
After a scoreless first half, striker Che Adams and midfielder Stuart Armstrong missed good opportunities before skipper John McGinn fired a 70-minute drive home and Dykes headed twice from the corners of fellow substitute Ryan Fraser for a morale win.
The Scots had been well beaten by Ukraine in the play-off of the 2022 World Cup semi-final in June, but this time they were the size of Oleksandr Petrakov’s side.
Scotland have nine points from four games, two more than Ukraine, and will face Ireland on Saturday against Ukraine in Poland next week in their final game in Group B1, when promotion to Group A is at stake.
With skipper Andy Robertson injured, Clarke was happy to have fit Kieran Tierney back for his first appearance in Scotland since March.
There were two more changes from the 4-1 away win over Armenia in their final appearance with midfielder Ryan Christie and defender Scott McKenna coming back on the wing.
The applause from the minute before the game was accompanied by some cheers in memory of the Queen, patroness of the Scottish Football Association, before a confident and fast Ukrainian side started the game in a menacing fashion, expanding the home defense with a series of through balls .
However, in the 11th minute, Scotland’s lone striker Adams had a strike on goal from 16 yards saved by goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin, although the offside flag was erroneously raised, according to replays.
Then a Christie cutback from the left found no takers, but at least it brought some life into the Tartan army.
The home side seemed to have calmed down. McGinn and Christie both headed over the bar before Trubin spilled a shot from Armstrong, but Christie couldn’t catch the rebound.
There was a blow to the Scots in the 25th minute when Nathan Patterson, who had sustained a knee injury, was replaced by Aaron Hickey of Brentford.
Everton’s right-back was taken off on a stretcher as Ukrainian coach Petrakov approached him to offer support.
A brutal ‘last man’ body check by Valeriy Bondar on Adams just before half-time earned the defender only a yellow card from referee Maurizio Mariani to the fury of Scottish supporters.
Bondar was booed whenever he touched the ball after the break, but there was little else to put the Tartan army out until the 57th minute, when a powerful Armstrong drive from a Tierney cut-back put Trubin to the test.
The Southampton midfielder then clung to a Scott McTominay heel, but fired his shot high over the bar.
Then Adams missed two glorious chances and headed a cross from McGinn into the crossbar before Trubin somehow stopped a header from another delivery from the Aston Villa skipper.
In the 68th minute, Armstrong led an Adams cross header past the eighty post and just as frustrations started to boil over, McGinn took the lead.
When a loose ball came towards him on the edge of the Ukrainian penalty area, the former Hibernian midfielder used his strength to control the ball and drill it low into the far corner.
Adams and Armstrong were replaced by Fraser and Dykes before Trubin had to scramble over his goal to push a Tierney shot wide.
The two substitutes then combined from the corner for Scotland’s second, Fraser’s corner headed in from the left by Dykes.
And with four minutes to go, Dykes sensationally headed in again from another Fraser corner to take three valuable points.