Scott McTominay continued his stunning Euro 2024 qualifying form as Scotland brushed aside Cyprus 3-0 to move within touching distance of Germany.
The Manchester United midfielder opened the scoring in the sixth minute in the AEK Arena in Larnaca with his sixth goal in five games before Ryan Porteous volleyed in his first international goal nine minutes later.
The three points were effectively secured in the 29th minute when McTominay set up John McGinn for a third and the Old Trafford man hit the woodwork late on as the visitors cruised to victory.
Steve Clarke’s side have now won five out of five Group A qualifiers to sit nine points ahead of Spain having played two fixtures more.
Scotland host England in a 150th anniversary heritage match on Tuesday night and if Norway and Georgia draw in their qualifier the same evening then the Scots will have reached their second successive European Championships.
And if that scenario does not materialise then there are still games against Spain, Georgia and Norway to finish the job themselves.
Scotland could hardly have been in better form going into the match in Larnaca, having gone eight competitive games unbeaten, including wins over Spain and Norway.
And it seemed like a Scotland home game with more than the official 3,728 Tartan Army members inside the 8,056-capacity stadium.
Temur Ketsbaia’s team had lost their opening three qualifiers, including a 3-0 defeat at Hampden Park in March and so confidence was rightly high in the visiting camp.
Che Adams rather than Lyndon Dykes led the Scotland line, closely supported by McGinn and McTominay and they all combined for the opener.
A quick Adams throw-in released skipper Andy Robertson down the left and when he stood his cross up, McGinn flicked on inside the six-yard box – it looked like he had miscued it – for McTominay to head in at the back post.
Cyprus’s positive reaction saw striker Pieros Sotiriou hit the bar a minute later but the offside flag was up before attacking midfielder Grigoris Kastanos tested Scotland keeper Angus Gunn with a long-range drive.
In the 13th minute Kastanos came close with another powerful drive from 25 yards before the Scots doubled their lead.
Robertson’s deep free-kick in to the home penalty area was headed onwards by Jack Hendry and fellow centre-back Porteous took a touch before firing past Cyprus keeper Joel Mall.
Just before the half-hour mark a fine Scotland move down the right ended with McTominay setting up the unmarked McGinn to curl in his 17th Scotland goal from the edge of the box.
Scotland were playing with a swagger and McTominay drove just wide from 20 yards before McGinn shot from inside his own half.
The tension had gone from the game but Kastanos again made Gunn react quickly to save another effort from distance.
McTominay almost got a significant touch on a Robertson cross early in the second half as the game began to feel more like a friendly.
Clarke made changes in the 66th minute with Kenny McLean and Dykes on for Billy Gilmour and Adams.
Scotland bossed the final stages and in the 74th minute McTominay’s right-footed shot from the edge of the box beat Mall but rebounded off the post, before Stuart Armstrong, Nathan Patterson and Ryan Christie made cameo appearances.
England are up next up and that is always a massive game for Scotland but the Tartan Army will have one eye on the result in Oslo on the same night to see if their appearance in the Euro finals in Germany are confirmed, although that may just be a matter of time.