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.”

Stale Solbakken admits it was a “big blow” to lose Erling Haaland for Sunday’s dead-rubber Euro 2024 qualifier against Scotland at Hampden – but the Norway manager is confident the Manchester City striker’s injury is not a serious one.

The free-scoring forward withdrew from the squad on Saturday morning after damaging his ankle in the second-half of Thursday’s 2-0 friendly win over Faroe Islands.

“It’s a big blow for any team but we have played without him before, sometimes with success, sometimes without,” said Solbakken, speaking at Hampden on Saturday evening.

“We started the qualification when he was not ready for the first two games, but after that he has played every single game so it was unfortunate for us that he got the small knock on Thursday.

“It’s the movement in his foot that is the problem but it’s not a serious injury. Had it been a final, I don’t know (if he would have been fit to play).

“All parties agree it is probably a little too early (for him to play) but it is not a career-threatening injury.”

When asked why Haaland – a talisman for club and country – was risked in such a low-key match, Solbakken said: “It was his choice. He wanted to play 45 minutes to keep the momentum in a week where we were maybe not training as much. It was his decision.

“There were three players who have played many games and we had conversations with all three of them and Erling’s much preferred choice was to play 45 minutes.”

Many anticipated Sunday’s match being a qualification decider but Scotland’s 2-1 win in Oslo in June, when they scored two goals in the closing minutes to overturn Haaland’s penalty, has proved pivotal.

The Scots are already assured of a place in the finals in Germany and are six points ahead of third-placed Norway, who have only a slim chance of landing a play-off if results elsewhere go their way.

“It was probably the sorest defeat you will ever feel,” said Solbakken, recalling Scotland’s late turnaround in the summer. “I still wake up at night thinking about those last five minutes but that is life.

“If you look back now, those five minutes were very, very damaging. Otherwise the game tomorrow would have been a final. That speaks volumes.

“But we must congratulate Scotland on a great campaign. They have done really, really well, not only in this campaign but also in the years before that.

“They’ve played at a very high level and have also been good at bringing the margins on their side in tight games, which is very important in national football when there are so few games.”

Unless they manage to salvage a Euro 2024 place via a play-off, Norway’s run without major tournament football will extend to 26 years. The Scots ended a 23-year wait when they qualified for the Euros in 2021 and Solbakken feels his nation can draw inspiration from Steve Clarke’s resurgent side.

“Of course we can,” he said. “I think we are quite even. We always play very tight games against each other but they have been better than us with the small margins lately. We need to see if we can find that way too.”

Erling Haaland is to sit out Norway’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Scotland on Sunday at Hampden Park due to a foot problem.

The Manchester City striker took a blow to his foot on Thursday when Norway beat the Faroe Islands 2-0 in a friendly in Oslo.

In a statement on the Norwegian Football Federation’s official website on Saturday, team doctor Ola Sand said: “The injury is not serious, but he is in so much pain and somewhat restricted function that the Scotland game unfortunately comes a little too early.”

Norway boss Stale Solbakken said: “It is of course a shame that Erling will not be ready for the match on Sunday, but we will not be bringing in a replacement.

“This is a great opportunity for the offensive players in the squad to show off.”

Premier League leaders City return to action after the international break by hosting Liverpool – a point behind in second place – on November 25.

Haaland, scorer of 52 goals for City in their treble-winning campaign last season, has netted 17 times in all competitions for Pep Guardiola’s men so far this term.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke is focused on finishing their Euro 2024 qualification campaign on a high after sealing their place in Germany amid a hat-trick of defeats.

A 2-0 loss in Spain was sandwiched by friendly defeats against England and France, but five wins from their opening five games in Group A proved enough for a second successive qualification for the European Championship finals after the Spaniards won in Norway.

With a five-month international hiatus to follow, Clarke is eager to ensure Scotland come away from their final competitive matches with points against Georgia and Norway before next summer’s tournament in Germany.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s clash in Tbilisi, Clarke said: “The idea with the friendly matches against England and France was to test ourselves against the best and see where we measure up.

“Obviously with the results we had, we still have a bit of work to do. We will try to stay humble, respect our opponents and just try to improve all the time.

“Listen, we want to get back to winning ways. It’s not very often in the reign that I have had, apart from the early stages, that we have had consecutive defeats like we have had recently.

“It would be nice to think in the remaining two games we can pick up more points.

“I have always said we want to get as high a points tally as possible and (we have) two more games to try and do that.”

Scotland have lost their previous two games in Georgia, defeats which ultimately prevented them from qualifying for Euro 2008 and 2016.

Clarke’s side have shown the ability to break such negative runs, for instance securing the first play-off success and ending a 23-year wait for a major tournament appearance.

“Listen, in sport what’s past is past, there is nothing we can do to affect that,” Clarke said of the history in Tbilisi. “All we can do is affect the future, the next game we play.

“We have always tried to improve results no matter who we are playing against.”

Georgia lost 7-1 at home to Spain in September but they beat Cyprus 4-0 in their most recent qualifier and are assured of a Euro 2024 play-off place thanks to a Nations League campaign which included big wins in Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

Clarke said: “When you go away from home against a team like Georgia, it’s going to be a difficult environment, a difficult game for us, because they are a very good side.

“The one game they lost heavily was against Spain and that’s a little bit of an anomaly in recent games, because all their games have been very competitive. And we expect that on Thursday night.”

Clarke is without the likes of Angus Gunn, Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Aaron Hickey and Che Adams, but he hopes players such as Josh Doig and Lawrence Shankland can seize the opportunity that injury list presents.

“Over the course of my tenure I have always tried to look a little bit deeper,” he said.

“There will be some squads like this one where we have a number of players missing. But I always say it’s a chance for someone else.

“If everyone else can do better it makes my selection more difficult going into next year. The selection will be difficult. I have to find the right 23 for next summer.

“For now, some boys are in the squad with the chance to make a big impression, not just on me but the rest of my staff and the rest of the country. Let’s see how they perform in the game.”

Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark and Motherwell captain Liam Kelly are vying for competitive debuts after both played 45 minutes against France to win their first caps.

Clarke, who also has Rangers reserve Robby McCrorie in his squad, was not giving anything away on his stand-in choice.

Speaking from Scotland’s training camp in Antalya, Turkey, he said: “The three goalkeepers have trained very well, as they always do, and between now and kick-off I will obviously have to choose one.”

Liam Cooper insisted Scotland are intent on doing themselves justice at Euro 2024 after failing to win a game in their last tilt at the tournament.

The Scots go into their concluding two qualifiers – away to Georgia on Thursday and at home to Norway on Sunday – having already qualified for the finals in Germany next summer.

Steve Clarke’s men suffered group-stage elimination at Euro 2020 – delayed until 2021 due to Covid – after taking just one point from three games against Czech Republic, England and Croatia.

Leeds defender Cooper – speaking from the Scots’ training base in Turkey ahead of Thursday’s match in Tbilisi – feels they will be better equipped this time to make it to the knockout phase.

“As professionals, I think we put that expectation on ourselves immediately after the last Euros,” he said. “I don’t think we did ourselves justice in that tournament.

“It was a lot of lads’ first taste of a major tournament, including myself, and straight after that we agreed among ourselves that we didn’t really do ourselves justice.

“We’ve got a lot of people, including ourselves, to prove to that we belong there and we can get through the group stages.

“We’ve got an honest bunch of lads and we hold ourselves accountable. We want to be satisfied with the way we performed. We’ve done well in this qualification campaign, to qualify with two games to spare is amazing, but it can’t stop there.

https://x.com/ScotlandNT/status/1724198526597415041?s=20

“To be even more successful, we’ve got to go and do ourselves justice at the Euros. I’m lucky enough to have been at the last Euros, but if the goalposts don’t change once you’ve had a taste of that and you don’t want to go and improve on it next time, then there’s no point in you being here.”

Cooper admits it is a good feeling to go into the last two matches having already qualified but he is adamant the Scots will not be taking things easy over the next week, with top spot in Group A as well as a place in the squad for the finals at stake.

“It’s nice to have qualified with two games to spare, but there’s also that carrot there that if Spain drop points, we can go and win the group,” said the 32-year-old. “That’s our motivation right now. We’ve got to be professional and take our chance if Spain slip up.

“We’ve only got this camp and the next camp to get ourselves in the manager’s thoughts and get in the squad for Germany so that’s also added motivation. We’ve got to put ourselves forward and prove we should be on that plane to Germany.

“I had a taste of that before and it was an amazing experience albeit in difficult times for the world (due to Covid). There were limited people in the stadium so you didn’t get the full experience.

“It was still an amazing experience but I think the Euros next summer will be unbelievable. It’s something you always dream of as a kid so you’ve got to do all you can by playing well and being successful in these next couple of games and into the March camp as well.”

Excitement is building among the Scotland support and players ahead of the draw for the Euros group stage on December 2.

“We’re obviously buzzing for that,” said Cooper. “We can then get booked and our friends and families can start getting booked up.

“It’s been a bit of a nightmare not knowing where we’ll be playing, every person I’ve spoken to has booked about 20 hotels on free cancellation so it will be nice to know where we’re going to be based.

“Once all the logistics of it are sorted out then you can really start to look forward to it. But we’re professionals and we understand there’s a lot of football to be played before then and there’s still a big decision to be made by the manager (regarding squad selection) so there will be no getting too carried away.”

Steve Clarke wants Scotland to use their final Euro 2024 qualifiers against Georgia and Norway to regain their momentum ahead of the finals in Germany next summer.

The Scots initially suspected they might need positive results from their last two games in Group A to qualify so organised a warm-weather training camp in Turkey at the start of next week to give themselves the best possible preparation ahead of their penultimate fixture in Tbilisi on Thursday.

However, after a blistering start to their campaign, they sealed their place at the tournament with two games to spare, so their main priority in the upcoming camp is to spark an upturn in results after successive defeats against England, Spain and France.

“We’ll be doing something similar to what we did when we went to Moldova (in 2021, when they had a warm-weather training camp in Spain), so we’ll leave early, on Sunday night after the games, and we’re going to stop off in Turkey and have a couple of days of hopefully warm weather there to break up the journey,” Clarke said at a press conference on Wednesday after naming his squad for the double-header.

“We identified these two games – Georgia away and Norway at home – as crucial games in the qualification process, but credit to the players, they’ve already qualified, so the games are not quite as crucial.

“But when you strip it back, we’ve lost the last three games, so we want to pick up a little bit of momentum going into the tournament next summer, so these two games are very important for us.

“It will be good to come here to finish the campaign with a home game against Norway and hopefully a good performance.

“It will be a chance for the crowd to thank the players and a chance for the players to thank the crowd. It will be a bit of a poor night if we don’t win the game, so let’s make sure we win the game.”

The 2-0 defeat by Spain in Seville saw Scotland relinquish top spot in Group A on goal difference. Spain finish away to Cyprus and at home to Georgia.

“I think to finish top is going to be very difficult,” said Clarke. “As I sit here now, it’s difficult for me to see Spain dropping any points from their last two games.

“We’ll just focus on ourselves and, if we can finish on the same points as Spain and they manage to top the group by an unfortunate slip from Aaron Hickey in the 2-0 defeat by Spain in Seville, we’ll take that.”

Scotland are missing four established starters for this month’s double-header, with goalkeeper Angus Gunn, captain Andrew Robertson, and fellow defenders Kieran Tierney and Aaron Hickey all injured.

Rangers defender John Souttar and Millwall forward Kevin Nisbet are the other notable absentees following their recent fitness issues.

Uncapped duo Josh Doig and Robby McCrorie, both of whom have been in previous camps, have been included, along with Celtic right-back Anthony Ralston.

“This is probably the toughest it’s been in terms of injuries in the last year or so,” said Clarke. “I remember in September last year we had to go to Ukraine in the Nations League with pretty much a shadow squad, but we dug in and got the result required.

“That’s what we’ll do this time. We can talk about the ones who are not here, but I always prefer to talk about the ones that are going to be here, so fingers crossed there are no more injuries before the squad meet up on Sunday.”

With first-choice Gunn missing with an injury he sustained for Norwich against Leeds last month, Motherwell’s Liam Kelly and Hearts’ Zander Clark, both of whom made their international bows in the friendly defeat by France last month, will vie to make their competitive debuts over the next two games.

“Obviously one of them is going to get a chance to play in the games coming up, so it’s a big camp for them,” said Clarke. “They know they have to impress.

“They’ve been in a lot of squads so they understand it and know the expectation around them. Hopefully they train well and are ready to play.”

Clarke included uncapped Verona left-back Doig after he was initially named in Scot Gemmill’s under-21 squad this week.

“Josh is doing well in Serie A, playing pretty regularly for his club,” said Clarke.

“He’s a good, athletic player who gets up and down the line. It will be nice to see how he’s improved and how he fits into the camp since we last saw him last September.”

Clarke insists he has not allowed his attention to turn towards his final 23-man squad for the Euros just yet.

“It won’t be a headache, it will be a difficult choice,” he said. “There’s obviously going to be a lot of people that want to be there.

“For me, it’s about not thinking too far ahead to picking the 23 because as this camp shows, injuries can turn up at any time.

“There’s a long way to go before the final squad is picked. Every game between now and the squad selection for the Euros next summer is a chance for somebody to impress so hopefully they take their chances.”

Scotland have qualified for Euro 2024 after Norway were beaten 1-0 by Spain in Oslo.

The result meant Steve Clarke’s men were guaranteed a top-two finish in Group A with two games to spare.

A Norway victory would have meant Scotland needed a point from their remaining matches, in Georgia and at home to Norway, next month.

But a second-half goal from Spain’s Gavi meant the Scots were mathematically certain to be at next year’s championships in Germany.

Spain, who beat Scotland 2-0 in Seville on Thursday to avenge their defeat by the same scoreline at Hampden Park in March, also made sure of their qualification a they moved top the group on goal difference.

They have two matches remaining, against minnows Cyprus and Georgia.

Scotland could qualify for the 2024 European Championship when Norway host Spain in Oslo on Sunday night and unsurprisingly Erling Haaland is a central figure in the fixture.

Steve Clarke’s side lost 2-0 to La Roja in Seville on Thursday night and their first defeat after five Group A wins left them three points ahead of Luis de la Fuente’s men, having played a game more.

Scotland face France in a friendly in Lille on Tuesday night but in essence, if Norway fail to beat Spain then the Scots will be appearing at their second successive Euros, while there are two fixtures next month, Georgia away and Norway at Hampden Park, which offer opportunities to clinch qualification.

Norway, who lost 2-1 at home to the Scots in June with Haaland scoring from the penalty spot, beat Cyprus 4-0 in Larnaca on Thursday with the Manchester City superstar scoring a double to make it 27 goals in 27 appearances for his national team.

De la Fuente was quoted in Marca.com praising his defence as they prepare to come up against the Norwegian goal machine.

He said: “We will look for the best version of all, with concentration to try to stop the attacks of Norway.

“We know the importance of Haaland, but he is not the only one. There is no Haaland plan. Haaland is a dynamic attacking specialist, but I’m delighted with the work of my centre-backs.

“We will try to counteract those characteristics, not only Haaland, and we will try to minimise the talent of these players. In defence, against Scotland and Norway, we have dominated the situation.”

The only blip in the qualifying campaign for Spain, this summer’s Nations League winners, was the 2-0 defeat at Hampden Park in March and they will qualify for Germany with a win in Oslo.

Norway have no margin for error in their quest to reach Euro 2024 and coach Stale Solbakken was quoted in marca.com as acknowledging the difficulty of the task they face.

He said: “Yes, the situation of the group for us is a disappointment. Why? It’s as simple as the fact that our situation is extremely difficult to be in the European Championship.”

Looking back at lessons from the defeat in Malaga, he said: “We learned that we can play, create chances, be alive for 81 minutes.

“Spain is always one of the best, always with the ball and in aggressiveness when they don’t have it.”

Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy is happy his side will take to the pitch at Tynecastle next week with their European hopes still alive following a 2-1 defeat by Rosenborg in Norway.

It was a tough first half for Hearts in the first leg of their Europa Conference League third round qualifier at the Lerkendal Stadion as Emil Frederiksen put the home side ahead in the 14th minute before Jayden Nelson made it 2-0 in added time.

The Jambos asserted themselves after the break and pulled a goal back in the 78th minute through skipper Lawrence Shankland on his 28th birthday to give the Edinburgh side better prospects of recovering the tie in the second leg next Thursday in Gorgie.

McAvoy told Hearts TV: “We are obviously disappointed to lose the game 2-1 but the tie is alive which is the least that we hoped that we could do.

“We made a few mistakes in the first half but that is about us encouraging players to be brave on the ball, we’ve done that so we accept that responsibility as a coaching team.

“We had a lot of possession in the first half but we’re probably a wee bit too safe, if I’m honest.

“We changed that a wee bit in a second half and you could see that we get more impetus, more forward, penetrating passes and I thought that the least we deserved was the goal which we are delighted with and obviously not losing again because their strength is in transition, they are very good at it.

“But it’s all to play for in front of a capacity crowd at Tynecastle so we believe we can go there and hopefully get the job done.”

Kenny McLean savoured a special moment in his career after his last-gasp winner earned Scotland a crucial three Euro 2024 qualifying points from a 2-1 victory in Norway.

McLean struck a composed 89th-minute finish with his right foot 10 minutes after coming off the bench and two minutes after Lyndon Dykes had cancelled out Erling Haaland’s 61st-minute opener from the penalty spot.

Left midfielder McLean said: “It was pretty special, a really good moment for everyone involved and obviously for the fans that travelled – it was amazing, I can hear them outside now.

“Obviously I have only had the San Marino goal previously so I am delighted to score such a meaningful goal.

“I don’t know if I was too happy with Dykesy – setting me up on my right – but thankfully it worked. It doesn’t come out much but thankfully it paid off.”

McLean was part of a triple change from manager Steve Clarke which also saw Billy Gilmour and Stuart Armstrong come on, after Liam Cooper had earlier replaced the fatigued Kieran Tierney.

The Norwich player said: “The manager is constantly going about the squad, it’s a squad game and that’s what we are always about.

“The majority of times we make four or five subs so everyone needs to be ready and thankfully the lads that came on were.

“We have worked for the last couple of weeks together, we had the camp in Spain and worked hard throughout, so to get the rewards is excellent.”

Dykes was delighted with his goal and assist after a challenging night up front on his own in temperatures of about 30 degrees at kick-off.

The QPR striker said: “It was a tough game. They played well. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to play but I was waiting for that opportunity all night and I was just happy to see it go in.

“It’s a hard position sometimes, it doesn’t always go your way. Balls were coming up to me, flying everywhere and they were probably getting the better of me. But I was trying to keep my head and wait for the opportunity.

“I have to keep rolling on and hopefully when the chances come, they go in because the ball rolling in that goal was the slowest thing I have ever seen in my life and I was having a heart attack. I was just happy to see it go over the line.

“And obviously when Kenny scored, it was the icing on the cake.”

Scotland extended their lead at the top of Group A but face a quick turnaround before Tuesday’s visit of Georgia.

McLean said: “It was a massive step for us in the group but we have a lot of work to do and we have a game in a few days.

“We will enjoy this now but we need to go and recover. Nobody wants to hear it but that’s what we have to do.”

Scotland manager Steve Clarke hailed the character and depth in his squad following their sensational late Euro 2024 qualifying comeback in Oslo.

Clarke’s men stunned Norway with an unlikely turnaround as goals from Lyndon Dykes and substitute Kenny McLean in the final four minutes of normal time earned the Group A leaders a 2-1 victory.

McLean was one of three changes Clarke made in the 79th minute and it proved just in time after Scotland struggled to pose a threat and fell behind to Erling Haaland’s 61st-minute penalty after the striker went down when Ryan Porteous got hold of his shirt.

With Spain not playing, Scotland extended their lead at the top of Group A and moved eight points ahead of third seeds Norway.

Clarke said: “I was pleased with the performance, we were disciplined and passed it quite well at times.

“Obviously, you have got to soak up a lot of pressure against a good Norwegian team. And we never stopped believing. We keep going to the end and got our rewards.

“It says a lot about the character, the spirit, the quality from the bench. One of the things I keep banging on about with this group of players, the quality we have got, they want to do well for their country.

“And when I turn to the bench and I know I need to make changes to freshen it up, I am putting top-quality players on the pitch.

“It was just about getting the timing right. After losing the goal, I felt it was better just to stay in the fight for a little bit to make sure the game didn’t run away from us.

“After that we had to chase the game, it was pretty logical – you are going to take off a defender and push John McGinn a little bit further forward.

“We brought Kenny to the game, Billy Gilmour to the game, brought Stuart Armstrong to the game, fresh legs to try and get forward and they were involved in most of the best things towards the end of the game.

“Even Dominic (Hyam) comes on at the end and sticks his head on a couple. Congratulations to Dominic, first cap, not a bad place to do it, not a bad score.”

Scotland’s win already puts them in a strong position with a perfect record ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Georgia, which will mark the halfway point in the campaign.

Clarke said: “If we want to qualify for major tournaments, you know you have to go away from home against good teams and pick up points. This is three points which is big but we have to go again.

“They are all in there recovering in an ice bath and we have to make sure we get three points on Tuesday to capitalise. It sets us up nicely for Tuesday, I am not looking beyond that.”

Porteous is suspended for Tuesday after picking up a yellow card but Kieran Tierney could feature despite hobbling off, not long after the opener.

When asked how the Arsenal defender was, Clarke said: “Tired. Just tired. He didn’t join us for the training camp. Not released by his club.

“He joined us at the start of this week and felt a bit of tightness in his quad so we just protected him all week.

“To get a good hour out of the lad was fantastic and shows that everybody is prepared to put their body on the line. And then we are bringing on Liam Cooper who is a top-quality defender.”

Norway manager Stale Solbakken – whose side were left bottom of the group – bemoaned the turning point of the game when his defender’s interception fell for Dykes to nudge home.

“It was an accident for Leo Ostigrad. I think it was cramp in both legs at the same time,” he said. “That’s how it is, we can’t blame him for that. I will have to take the blame for not substituting him if it was like that.

“We are in a very difficult position.”

Scotland manager Steve Clarke stressed the need to focus on “Norway the team” rather than become obsessed with trying to stop Erling Haaland.

Haaland goes into Saturday’s Euro 2024 qualifier in Oslo on the back of a 52-goal, treble-winning season with Manchester City and is set to make his first international appearance since September in front of an expectant crowd at the Ullevaal Stadium.

Much of the build-up to the game has been dominated by talk of the 22-year-old striker’s threat, but Clarke and defender Liam Cooper were careful not to overlook the rest of the Norway team – or give them any cause to feel under-appreciated.

Asked about trying stop Haaland, Clarke said: “As we always do, we concentrate on ourselves. We prepare properly for the game, we respect our opponents. We play Norway the team, and hopefully Scotland the team are a little bit better on the night.”

Leeds defender Cooper provided a similar response, saying: “With Erling, his goals and achievements speak for themselves. He has had an unbelievable season at club level, but I don’t like to disrespect the Norway team, they have a lot of good players and to put all our focus on one player, I think that would be wrong of us.

“We obviously know what Erling brings, he is an unbelievable player and unbelievable goalscorer, but we have to pay a lot of respect to the rest of the team as well.

“Obviously (Martin) Odegaard is a very good player, he has also been in a title challenge this year. They have got amazing players. We have to keep Erling and Odegaard in check, but there’s a lot of other players to worry about as well.”

Cooper played as Haaland netted twice at Elland Road earlier this season and, asked what made the forward such a difficult opponent, the 31-year-old said: “For one, he doesn’t need many chances. So you can almost guarantee if he does get a chance it will go away.

“He is strong, he is powerful and he is always on your shoulder, always looking to get in behind. Obviously if we are not on top of our game and we are not cautious of that, he can damage us and he can hurt us.

“But I don’t want to disrespect the rest of the team. We have got to look after the whole of the Norway team and that’s the way it will be.

“We are going to need a big performance, especially a defensive performance. Hopefully we can get that, the boys are dialled in, and get a positive result.”

Scotland go into the game on the back of beating Group A favourites Spain 2-0 at Hampden in March to make it a perfect start to the campaign, while Norway sit on one point from their two matches.

Asked if his Scotland side now expect to win these types of games, Clarke said: “I think we should come with confidence. Obviously we had a good March and we have had a good run of wins in competitive fixtures.

“But we know we are coming to a difficult place. We always respect our opponents, we try and play as well as we can, and hopefully we can add to the points tally.

“It’s a different challenge, it’s an away game. Norway are a different team from Spain, they play a different way.

“They put you under a little bit more pressure maybe. Spain will pass the ball and pass the ball and try to win the game with possession. Norway can play with the ball because they have good ball players, but they can also be quite direct as well.”

Clarke reported a healthy squad following a Spanish training camp and this week’s work at Lesser Hampden.

“Full squad’s here, 25 players have travelled,” he said. “I have got a big decision, I have got to leave two out of the 23, so that’s my next job.”

While Norwegian standouts Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen shone on home soil at the Oslo Diamond League, Jamaica’s athletes had somewhat of an off day, with Rushell Clayton’s second-place finish in the women’s 400m hurdles, being the best of the lot, at the Bislett Stadium on Thursday.

Warholm, clocked the fourth fastest 400m hurdles time in history, as he won in 46.52 seconds, after which his compatriot Ingebrigtsen, established a European men's 1,500m record of three minutes 27.95 seconds, much to the delight of the 15,000 supporters that turned out for the fifth stop on the Wanda Diamond League series.

Just before that, Jamaica’s in-form sprinter, Shericka Jackson, the third-fastest woman in the 100m this year at 10.78s, was beaten into third by Ivory Coast’s Marie Josee Ta Lou, in an event that wasn’t as close as was anticipated.

Ta Lou, who was the second-fastest athlete this year coming into the event, was comfortable in victory, as she clocked a meet record and world leading 10.75s in a positive 0.9 metres per second wind reading. She bettered the longstanding meet record of 10.82s set by Marion Jones in 1998, and the previous world lead of 10.76s set by American Sha’Carri Richardson, last month.

Bahamas Anthonique Strachan was second in a personal best 10.9s, while Jackson (10.98s) recovered from a slow start to take third ahead of the British pair of Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita, who were also clocked at 10.98s.

Clayton earlier ran a brave race for second in a season’s best 53.84s, behind impressive Dutchwoman, Femke Bol, who also clocked a meet record and world leading 52.30s for the 400m hurdles. Incidentally, the previous meet record of 52.61s was set by Bol last year, along with the previous world lead of 52.43s, which she clocked earlier this month.

Panama’s Gianna Woodruff, also with a season’s best 54.46, was third ahead of the other Jamaican Janieve Russell (54.91s). Russell’s time was also a season’s best. ‌

Jamaica’s national record holder Danniel Thomas-Dodd placed third in the women’s shot put event with a mark of 19.44m, which came on her second attempt. She finished behind Canadian Sara Mitton, who won with a throw of 19.54m, while American world leader, Maggie Ewan was second with 19.52m.

World Championships silver medalist Shanieka Ricketts was fourth in the women’s triple jump, after only managing a best of 14.33m, with Thea Lafond of Dominica, finishing fifth with a best leap of 14.21.

World and Olympic champion Yulimar Rojas, topped the event after cutting the sand at 14.91m, just shy of her world lead of 14.96. The Venezuelan won ahead of Cuba’s Leyanis Perez Hernandez, with a personal best 14.87m and Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, who also achieved a season’s best 14.75m.

Another Jamaican Kimberly Williams did not start.

Former World Champion Tajay Gayle placed sixth on his Diamond League debut in the men’s long jump. Gayle’s best mark was 7.87m, as Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer (8.32m), American Marquis Dendy (8.26m) and Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.21m) of Greece, took the top three spots.

South African Wayde Van Niekerk continues to round into form, as he topped the men’s 400m in 44.38s, ahead of Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga (44.49s) and American Vernon Norwood, who clocked a season’s best 44.51s.

Meanwhile, there were also meet records for 19-year-old American Erriyon Knighton, who won the men's 200m in 19.77s to beat the mark previously held by sprint legend Usain Bolt.

Kenya's Beatrice Chebet won the women’s 3,000m in a world-leading 8:25.01, while a brilliant men's 5,000m race went down to the wire with Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha awarded victory over Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo in the fifth-fastest time in history (12:41:73).

Swedish star Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis took victory in the men's pole vault where he was the only athlete to clear 6.01 metres.

The next Diamond League event takes place in Lausanne, Switzerland on 30 June.

Scotland defender Jack Hendry is relishing the prospect of facing Erling Haaland after enjoying previous battles against some of the world’s best forwards.

Hendry has a good chance of starting in Saturday’s Euro 2024 qualifier in Oslo despite missing Scotland’s opening wins with injury. Grant Hanley and Scott McKenna are absent with injuries ahead of this month’s double header.

Haaland also missed the March qualifiers through injury and will be determined to add to his 53 goals for club and country this season after helping Manchester City clinch the treble last weekend.

When asked how you stop the striker, Hendry said: “I think we will keep that amongst ourselves in the group, I don’t want to give too much away. But a lot of people have tried to stop him this season and they haven’t done.

“He is an amazing player with an amazing record this season but we will taking a look at the full team and trying to combat that.

“We will do our best but it’s something I will definitely be relishing if I get called upon, to try and get the better of him.

“Obviously he has had an amazing season and of course that’s the type of players you want to test yourselves against. If I am called upon it’s a game I will be really looking forward to, testing yourself against the best in the world.

“I think we concentrate on ourselves, we did that for the first two games. If we keep on focusing on ourselves that will stand us in good stead.”

The Club Brugge defender faced City last season in the Champions League and also Paris St Germain, helping his side to a 1-1 draw against a forward line of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.

“Not just big names, every game I am going into, I will have a quick look at the strikers I am coming up against, what their movements etc might be,” he said.

“Like Haaland, with every other player, I will study them and see how they are going to play and come up with a best solution on how to deal with them.

“But playing against top strikers like Mbappe will give me great experience going into these type of contests.

“The more games you play at that level the more confidence it gives you and I am lucky enough to have played quite a few games at that level now.

“I know that’s the level I can play at and I get a real excitement out of coming up against these type of players. It’s something the full team are looking forward to.”

Hendry missed three months of the season with a knee injury shortly after facing Benfica in the Champions League knockout stages in February, but he was back in the team for the final three games of the season.

Hendry, who had a loan spell at Serie A side Cremonese earlier in the season, said: “It was vital for me on a personal note at Club Brugge but also to now come into the international set-up, those games were vital for me to get that rhythm.

“They couldn’t have come about at a better time for Scotland. It was kind of an up-and-down season for me but I made sure I worked hard at Club Brugge to get those games and get those minutes and it has paid off coming into these games.

“I like to put myself out the comfort zone and went to play in Italy. The chance came up, it was probably just the wrong club at the wrong time, but I learnt a lot from it.

“Obviously there have been a few managerial changes at the clubs I have been at this season so it’s not been easy, with a couple of niggling injuries that recurred a couple of times. But that’s part and parcel of being a footballer and I still managed to get a few games under my belt.”

Martin Odegaard is "pretty sure" he should have won a penalty for Norway against Spain after a fierce challenge from Rodri.

The Norway captain was wiped out inside the area by the Spain midfielder in an incident that sparked debate regarding the ongoing battle for the Premier League title.

There would have undoubtedly been winces at Arsenal having seen the Manchester City man clatter into their skipper, with the two sides going toe-to-toe to finish top of the league this season.

Despite the heavy challenge, no foul was awarded and that left Odegaard confused, though he stopped short of questioning the officials due to concern he would be issued with sanctions.

"I'm pretty sure I should have had a penalty. He's coming with his studs right on my ankle. But I'm sure I'll get punished [if I say any more]," he told TV2.

"I don't bother saying anything else about the referee. It's better not to say anything."

While Odegaard held back in his assessment, Norway head coach Stale Solbakken did not hold back on an incident he felt could have changed the course of the game.

"It is a clear penalty. He finishes the shot and you can't [foul him after]," he said.

"If I knock someone down after the ball is gone, then it's a penalty. I get a little bored of this.

"What I see here now [on the replay] is exactly what I saw from the bench. There was a bit of arrogance going on. That’s the way it is, but it's unbelievable."

Page 1 of 4
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.