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Steve Clarke is sure his men can get the goals against Croatia to cash in on Wembley

Steve Clarke with his captain, Andy Robertson, after Friday night’s draw with England.
Steve Clarke with his captain, Andy Robertson, after Friday night’s draw with England.

A Scotland fan long before he was a player and a manager, Steve Clarke needs no reminding the country has a thing about glorious failure.

So while the rest of the population has been revelling in the afterglow of a draw against England that did an excellent impression of being a win, the man in charge is keeping his eye on the prize.

Specifically, the opportunity Tuesday’s final Group D fixture, against Croatia at Hampden Park, offers his players to make a bit of history.

No Scotland team has ever reached the Finals of a major tournament, and progressed out of the opening stages – and this could be it.

Win, and they will achieve something that the greats of the game – Kenny Dalglish, Denis Law, Graeme Souness, Billy Bremner and so on – never managed to do in their illustrious careers.

However, first they have to finish the job off, which will require them to do something they have not managed yet in these Euros – score a goal.

Scoring goals, Clarke argued, is an inexact science.

Even the best strikers can sometimes go months without hitting the back of the net, only to break the sequence with a deflection or a sclaffed effort – then celebrate by going on a scoring run.

The difference between success and failure can come down to half-the-width of a post.

“It is the little things that can make the difference,”Clarke said.

“If you look at the key chances at Wembley as examples.

“With Stephen O’Donnell’s chance, he hit his shot very well.

“It was probably save of the match from Jordan Pickford, down to his right, and the little nuance you need is for that ball to spin up straight onto Che Adams’ head and he’s nodding it into an empty goal.

“But it was just a little bit too high.

“From their point of view – a great save. From our point of view – a bit unlucky it didn’t fall for Che to nod in.

“As for Lyndon Dykes’ shot, I am not sure if it was going in. But six inches inside the post, I don’t think the full-back gets round to cover it and that’s a goal.

“When Dykes had the shot and it falls between Che and Tyrone Mings in the box, if it’s your night and time to score, then that ball falls perfectly for Che to shoot first time into the back of net. It didn’t.

“He had to take half-a-step back and, by that time, the chance is gone at this level. All those little things are important.

“But we created a lot of chances against the Czech Republic, and enough chances against England to get a goal.

“I am sure if we create enough against the Croatians on Tuesday night, then we can score the goals that we need.”

That would almost certainly earn a spot in the Round of 16, and be the dividend from Friday night’s stirring showing.

“Gareth Southgate has got a good team there, and I am sure England will be competitive all the way in the tournament,” said Clarke.

“So for us, it was pleasing to get something out of the game.

“And the point is vital for us because we had to get something from the game to give ourselves a chance going into Tuesday night’s game.

“All our focus is now on that, and trying to make sure we can create a little bit more history for the country.”

The Scotland boss, meanwhile, cautions it would be unrealistic for anyone to turn on their television screens on Tuesday night expecting a Wembley sequel.

“Every game is different. It might pan out to be totally different game,” he said.

“Croatia have good attributes, different attributes to England. They are a good team, who move the ball well.

“We will have to defend well again, and find a way to play through midfield.

“They have two really top players in midfield in Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric, and we need to deal with that.”

There will, however, be one common theme. The need for excellence across the board.

“When you are playing against the top teams, you needed 11 eight out of 10s,” said Clarke.

“We got that at Wembley.

“If we get everybody on the pitch, who we would want to get out there (and early indications are that Kieran Tierney came out of Wembley unscathed), then you would hope that would be good enough to get us the win that we need to get out of the group stages.”