Steve Clarke happy to toast Scotland fans after ‘strange’ draw with Norway

By Sports Desk November 19, 2023

Steve Clarke savoured the chance to celebrate Scotland’s Euro 2024 qualification with the Hampden crowd after his side rounded off their campaign with a “strange” 3-3 draw against Norway.

Scotland had qualified with two games to spare and finished second behind Spain in Group A after a second consecutive draw ensured they have only lost once in the section.

The players, including injured captain Andy Robertson, did a lap of honour afterwards to mark their achievement.

Clarke said: “It was nice – and nice for the supporters – to say thank you to the team, a nice night for the team and staff to thank the supporters.

“It’s always nice to qualify for a major tournament. Obviously the last one was Covid-restricted so we missed that connection and that feel with the fans.

“It’s great for everyone in the country that we have something to look forward to next summer.”

Clarke’s side twice came from behind in the first half through John McGinn’s penalty and an own goal before Stuart Armstrong netted a well-worked goal to out them in front just before the hour mark.

However, former Celtic winger Mohamed Elyounoussi came off the bench to head home in the 86th minute as Norway scored their third goal from a cross originating from right-back Julian Ryerson.

“It was a strange game,” Clarke said. “I need to go away and analyse it.

“What we have worked really hard at is being competitive, being a competitive team every time we go on to the pitch.

“That’s why I was a little bit disappointed with the first half, I didn’t think we were competitive enough. Much more competitive second half.

“We are Scotland, we have a certain way of playing, we like to play on the front foot.”

A two-goal win would have put Scotland in pot two for the December 2 draw, although they are arguably better off in pot three given they will now avoid the likes of the Netherlands, Italy and Croatia.

“I’m not bothered,” Clarke said. “I don’t know even know who else is in pot three and pot two. I’m sure I will find out when I get to Hamburg.”

Norway head coach Stale Solbakken felt his side should have been ahead at half-time but feels Scotland will pose problems in Germany.

“Overall we were the better team and should have won but it’s not easy, Scotland are always very well organised,” he added.

“They have a great coach and have very disciplined players who know their strengths and limitations. That’s very important – they play to their strengths and don’t pretend to be something else.

“They also have tournament experience so I think they can be a handful for everyone next summer. They also play two systems which is valuable.

“There will be no easy games for those teams who meet Scotland.”

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