Scotland captain Andy Robertson said his side were on a “hiding to nothing” after struggling to beat an inexperienced Czech Republic side, assembled just two days ago, 2-1 in the Nations League on Monday.
The Czechs released their entire first-choice squad and coaching staff after Friday’s 3-1 win in Slovakia over fears a coronavirus outbreak in the squad could spread.
After initially announcing the game would be postponed, the Czech football association agreed to name an entirely new squad and coaching staff, consisting of just two players to have previously been capped at senior level by their country.
“It wasn’t ideal for us either,” said Robertson after the game was plunged into doubt. “Friday night we’re thinking the game is cancelled, we are wondering if we are going home. It’s been an uncertain weekend, but we’ve dealt with the cards we’ve been given.
“We were on a hiding to nothing. I’m not bothered (about the performance), we got the three points.”
The hosts took a shock lead on 12 minutes as Jakub Pesek ghosted in behind Scott McTominay to control a Stanislav Tecl pass and slot beyond a helpless David Marshall.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke made five changes from a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Israel on Friday and the visitors looked disjointed with Manchester United’s McTominay in particular uncomfortable as a makeshift centre-back.
Clarke had dropped Kieran Tierney as he abandoned trying to fit two natural left-backs in the Arsenal defender and Robertson into the same side.
And Robertson did look more like he does at club level for Liverpool as the Scotland captain played a big part in both goals.
His crossfield pass picked out Liam Palmer, whose teasing low cross into the box was prodded home by Lyndon Dykes for his first international goal on 27 minutes.
Robertson then won a penalty seven minutes into the second half with a purposeful run into the box before he was chopped down by Tomas Malinsky and Ryan Christie converted the resulting spot-kick.
However, it was the young Czechs who then dominated the final half hour as they hit the woodwork twice in the search for an equaliser.
Marek Havlik’s thunderous free-kick came back off the post before Marshall produced a brilliant save to deny Pesek and Tecl fired the rebound wide with the goal gaping.
Antonin Rusek’s looping header then clipped the post as the game entered stoppage time as Scotland clung on to move top of League B, Group 2.
But Clarke was keen to point to the positives with his side now unbeaten in five games heading into next month’s Euro 2020 semi-final playoff against Israel at Hampden.
“All the pressure and expectation was on us to get the win, we were told the win was a must,” he told Sky Sports.
“That’s five games unbeaten as we go into the October internationals so there are some positives there. We can work on the performance.”