Scotland scorer Jamie Mackie felt his impressive second-half goal against Cyprus was a reward for fighting back from a leg break in January.
The QPR forward slalomed his way towards goal from wide on the left before beating the Cypriot keeper for Scotland's second in a 2-1 win.
"It was a hard time for me being out," said Mackie, who earned his fourth cap.
"But nights like this make all the rehab worthwhile and I am glad I put in the extra mile in my recovery."
Mackie suffered a double leg break at the beginning of the year in an FA Cup match against Blackburn Rovers but has since completed his gruelling physiotherapy sessions to resume his career.
Despite the mixture of drive, technique and balance that he displayed to score the 56th minute goal in Larnaca's Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, England-born Mackie said he thought Kenny Miller's delightful lob in the opening period was the superior strike.
And he was thrilled at the welcome he received from his Scotland team-mates after his lengthy absence.
He added: "It was really special. I've got to thank the manager. The lads have welcomed me like I hadn't been away.
"I missed seven games, including the qualifiers. It was hard for me to watch that, more so than watching my club play.
"I haven't played 90 minutes for my club yet so I'm getting that sharpness back in front of goal. I could have had a couple more on the night."
For Miller, his 16th goal for his country took him ahead of James McFadden and in to sixth place on Scotland's all-time goalscorers list.
Only Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish, Hughie Gallacher, Lawrie Reilly and Ally McCoist have scored more than the 31-year-old, who has now won 58 caps.
"It's always nice to score but you're not really thinking about edging past anyone," said the Cardiff City striker.
"I just want to keep playing as long as I can and score as many as I can.
"I've got another campaign to look forward to. As long as I'm still playing and performing for the team, hopefully I will score as many goals as I can."
And Miller was particularly pleased with the quality of his goal, where his deft control of a long Christophe Berra pass set him up to stun goalkeeper Antonis Georgallides from the edge of the box.
"It's always pleasing when you work on things through the week and highlight areas where you can get at them, and it comes off," he said.
"It was a fantastic diagonal from big Christophe and I managed to get a good touch on it and a decent finish. I was over the moon with it."
While the pair attracted praise from manager Craig Levein, they both acknowledged that there was room for improvement in Scotland's performance.
Dimitris Christofi scored three minutes after Mackie's strike to halve the deficit and twice in the first half the Cypriots hit the woodwork.
Miller, who went off in the 64th minute, said: "We felt at 2-0 we could have seen the game out and got a few more goals.
"But obviously conceding so close after scoring it gave them a boost and made us a wee bit more wary about pushing on and getting back in.
"It gave them the carrot to try and get a draw. It was disappointing because I did feel we were pretty much in control of the game at that point."
And Mackie added: "We made it hard for ourselves at times. We've got to keep the ball as well as we can.
"People think they are rubbish but they are hard to play against. At the end of the day we won and it takes the momentum forward.
"We created a lot of chances and we kept the ball well in spells but we need to do it the whole time. We need to be patient. It's a learning process."