Goals in the opening half-hour from Scott McTominay, Ryan Porteous, and John McGinn paved the way for an easy night for Steve Clarke’s team, who clinched their fifth consecutive win in the group.
This means Scotland only needs two points from their remaining three qualifiers – away matches against Spain and Georgia, followed by a home match against Norway – to guarantee a spot in back-to-back European Championships.
However, their place in next summer’s finals in Germany could be secured as early as Tuesday if Norway and Georgia draw in Oslo.
While that match is ongoing, Scotland will host England in a friendly at Hampden (19:45 BST) in fine form.
‘Only our wee country could mess it up from here’
Early goals & booking flights – how Scotland’s win unfolded
Having won their previous 10 group qualifying matches in a row before the trip to Cyprus, Clarke’s men put in a performance that justified the pre-match confidence of fans and pundits, and underlined their strong run.
After just six minutes, McTominay nodded in the opener when McGinn flicked Andy Robertson’s cross into his path, and 10 minutes later Porteous stabbed in his first Scotland goal after a deep free kick.
McGinn then effectively sealed a significant victory as he finished a flowing move involving Billy Gilmour, Che Adams, and McTominay by curling the ball home from the edge of the box.
Player of the match – Scott McTominay
Scotland’s Scott McTominay scores to make it 1-0 during a UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier between Cyprus and Scotland at the AEK Arena
Slick Scots continue progress – analysis
There is always a narrative around Scotland about messing up qualification campaigns. Glorious failure is in the DNA, some cry.
It is understandable given previous failures this century, but it ignores the evidence this team has produced regularly. It is now 11 straight group qualifying wins, with only one goal conceded and 12 scored in this campaign.
Clarke has built a miserly team that has added layers to its game. McTominay, having only played seven minutes for Manchester United this season, grows as a player in a Scotland shirt and is on course for a record-breaking year in dark blue. Nobody has scored more in European qualifying so far.
McTominay, McGinn, Gilmour, and Callum McGregor provide a wonderful mix of poise and physicality in midfield, there is dynamism from the wing-backs Robertson and Aaron Hickey, and left centre-back Kieran Tierney. Depth backs them up from the bench.
It all seems to work and flow, to the point Scotland will not just fancy themselves to reach the Euros – that seems inevitable – but create far more of an impact at the tournament than they managed in 2021 when they went out with a whimper in the group stage.
That is the target Clarke has set this side. And with his nous and steely determination, they are on course to achieve it.
What they said
Scotland manager Steve Clarke: “Another win in the process to try to qualify for another major tournament. That’s been the aim since the start.
“To win five games in the group is great, it’s what we want to do, but we’re not there [yet].
“Everyone can get excited, the Tartan Army can get excited; we’ll just stay level-headed. We’ve got a really tough game in Spain next month, and if we’ve got to go there and get something then that’s what we’ll try to do.”
Scotland midfielder Scott McTominay: “I just want to make people in Scotland happy, that’s my job, and the team’s job, and I think we’re doing it well at the minute.
“We have to keep a lid on it. We’ve got a really good squad, full of great characters. We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground, keep trying to win games and not concede goals.
“The job’s not finished, we need to really push – we don’t want to lose our unbeaten streak.”
Scotland has won their last 11 group stage qualifiers (World Cup/Euros), the longest ongoing run of any European side.
Cyprus has now lost their last seven European Championship qualifiers, their worst losing streak since a 12-game run between 1987 and 1994.
Scotland has won five consecutive matches in all competitions while netting two goals in each game, for the first time since November 1949 (a run of 6).
Scotland went 2-0 up after 16 minutes – the earliest they’ve scored twice in a game since October 2007 against Ukraine (first 10 minutes) and the earliest in an away game since May 1969 against Wales (also the first 16 minutes).
McTominay now has six goals and one assist in Euro 2024 qualifying, the most goal involvements of any player so far.
The Manchester United midfielder has scored six goals in his last five Scotland appearances – he had only netted one in his first 37 caps. His assist for McGinn’s goal was his first for Scotland.
Since Steve Clarke’s first game in charge, McGinn has been involved in 24 goals (17 goals, 7 assists) – 11 more than any other player. Only six players have scored more goals for Scotland than McGinn (17).