Scotland 3-3 Norway: Tartan Army celebrate Euro 2024 qualification with a six-goal thriller at Hampden Park – as Steve Clarke’s men come from behind twice to lead before Mohamed Elyounoussi strikes late for the visitors
A campaign in Scotland that began 239 days ago with a resounding victory over Cyprus ended in a mild sense of anticlimax. Give the Tartan Army what they deserve, it didn’t take long.
Mohamed Elyounoussi’s equalizer in the 86th minute of an enthralling match denied Steve Clarke’s team the sign their excellence in Group A deserved.
Since qualification for the 2024 European Championship had already been secured two games ago, it didn’t matter. No one seemed to care.
The players took to the field wearing t-shirts reading ‘We’re on our way to Germany’ as Hampden’s disco lights illuminated a raucous lap of honour. Unfazed by the result, the Tartan army got the party they came for.
Scotland trailed twice in a topsy-turvy first half and eventually fought back to claim the lead through Stuart Armstrong’s fifth international goal after 59 minutes.
Steve Clarke’s Scotland drew 3-3 with Norway in their final match of European Championship qualifying
On a night when John McGinn’s penalty put the captain level with Kenny Miller as Scotland’s sixth highest goalscorer of all time, a draw was not a disaster in the end. Forget Elyounoussi’s header, the late goal that really mattered came from Kenny McLean in Oslo on a decisive day in June.
With Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Aaron Hickey and goalkeeper Angus Gunn missing, it should come as no surprise that Scotland – one of the stingiest teams in the competition through six games – have scored five goals in their last two games against Georgia and Norway. Overloading Greg Taylor on the right flank – and buoyed by the excellence of Manchester City’s Oscar Bobb – the visitors scored all three of their goals from crosses from the same side of the pitch.
God only knows what the absent Erling Haaland would have done in a match this open. Not that his students did a poor job of filling the void, scoring the goals that ended hopes of Clarke’s side claiming a second-place finish in the European Championship draw in Hamburg on December 2. Looking at some of the teams they will now avoid in pot three, that’s hardly a bad thing.
When a team qualifies for a major tournament and rests key players, a loss in performance is difficult to avoid. Although Scotland had a better second half than the first, they were vulnerable and poor at the back. Even when Armstrong finally claimed the lead after an hour, victory was never assured.
Despite the absence of Haaland and Martin Odegaard, Norway were more than worth their point
Stuart Armstrong appeared to have scored the winner when he scored the 59th winner
There was a lively start to the match for Aron Donnum, the Toulouse winger claiming an early lead for the visiting team before conceding the penalty that dragged Scotland back into the match ten minutes later.
The opener surprised Hampden and came after three minutes. Jorgen Larsen beat Jack Hendry with a cross from the right. The ball fell to Donnum, who had all the time in the world to put the ball in the net as Nathan Patterson held up. It felt like a soap bubble bursting.
Scotland responded calmly and leveled from the spot after 13 minutes. John McGinn won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area after skinning Kristoffer Ajer. Scott McTominay’s low drive was deflected towards Callum McGregor – and the Celtic captain’s driven shot bounced off the outstretched arm of goalscorer Donnum as he slid in to block. Captain McGinn took the kick and sent Egil Selvik the wrong decision for 1-1
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After being silenced after the lightning start in Norway, Hampden found his voice again. The optimism did not last long.
Norway conspicuously targeted Scotland’s left side throughout the match, with great success. The tactic worked again after twenty minutes as the visitors scored a goal with dismal ease.
Sander Berge’s low cross from the right was deflected by McGregor and turned towards Larsen at the near post. On the hunt for his first goal in five games, the attacker simply pushed the ball towards the goal. Zander Clark failed to get a hand on it before it ricocheted off the back of the Hearts keeper’s leg and rolled over the line. Although a deflection clearly put Clark offside, it was yet another poor goal to concede.
In retrospect, neither defense will look back on the first half as a half to remember. Poor Leo Ostigard in particular wishes he had never seen Scotland. The Napoli centre-back, responsible for Lyndon Dykes’ equalizer that transformed the visitors’ campaign in Oslo, will not look back on either match with fond memories.
There was bad luck this time, there’s no doubt about that. McTominay’s corner was cleared by Kenny McLean’s head before ricocheting off the hapless Norwegian No. 15 and into his own net, past a helpless Selvik.
Say this a lot. While the Tartan Army barely watched the carnival in Scotland they were hoping to see, four goals offered a decent return for the ticket price.
Mohamed Elyounoussi equalized in the closing stages of the match to round off an exciting clash
By halftime they could be grateful for small mercies: Norway should have taken the lead 3-2.
The tricky Bobb was a joy to watch at times, playing a delightful ball behind the back line for Berg to gather and leap to the back line. Rolling the ball back into the path of opener Donnum, a third goal for Norway looked certain until Patterson produced a brilliant saving block with his right knee.
To give the home fans the win they so desperately wanted, Scotland had to be better in the second half.
A force of nature, a human bulldozer, McGinn led by example. There were times when players in red shirts simply couldn’t handle his ample derriere. The Aston Villa man was right in the middle of the goal, giving Scotland the lead for the first time in the match when Armstrong produced a fantastic move after 59 minutes.
It’s not often that a Scotland player tricks two opponents on his way to scoring a brilliant goal. The Southampton man dug in to win the ball back at the corner flag, deceived Bobb and rolled the ball towards McGinn at the byeline. The former Celtic man continued his run and perfectly collected McGinn’s cut back, driving the ball through Sander Berge’s legs and into the bottom corner of the net. Scotland finally had the lead.
McGinn limped off injured with 13 minutes to play. Another key player gone, Scotland tried – and failed – to finish the match.
No stranger to Hampden after a long rental period at Celtic: substitute Elyounoussi headed the equalizer that Norway deserved in the final minutes.
It was the third goal from a cross from the right flank, with Ryan Christie missing a key tackle on right back Julian Ryerson. Elyounoussi headed a perfectly lifted cross into the back post.