Former Celtic man Moi Elyounoussi struck late but he couldn't spoil the Hampden Euro 2024 party as Norway ended Scotland's perfect home qualifying record in a 3-3 thriller.
Steve Clarke’s men twice came from behind on a rain-lashed night in Glasgow and Stuart Armstrong looked to have won it but his old Southampton team-mate Elyounoussi netted to earn a draw late on. It was a disappointing end to the night and an incredible campaign as Scotland's winless run extended to five games. Scotland will now be in Pot 3 for next month’s draw in Hamburg for next summer’s extravaganza.
Aron Donnum fired the visitors into the lead after just three minutes to stun the home supporters and while skipper John McGann levelled from the spot 10 minutes later, Norway edged back ahead through Jorgen Strand Larsen before Leo Ostigard’s own goal levelled things again in a frantic first half hour. Scotland were much-improved after the restart and Stuart Armstrong - with his fifth goal for his country - put the home side in front for the first time on the night on the hour mark.
It was party night at Hampden and the home crowd were certainly in the mood with Freed From Desire blaring before a rousing rendition of the national anthem. But once Romanian ref Mircea Fesnic got the action underway it didn’t take long for the visitors to silence the supporters.
There were only three minutes on the clock when Toulouse winger Donnum shocked Scotland with the opener. It was all too easy for Norway as the home defence failed to deal with a ball into the box and when it fell to Donnum he fired in off the inside of Zander Clark’s right hand post. It wasn’t the start Scotland were hoping for.
But Scotland picked themselves up and didn’t have to wait long to get level - with Norway scorer Donnum going from hero to villain. Scott McTominay’s free kick, after a foul by ex Celtic man Kris Ajer which earned him a booking, was blocked and Callum McGregor’s shot from the rebound struck Donnum’s hand. The referee pointed to the spot and VAR had no complaints with McGinn making no mistake from 12 yards as he converted in style.
That lifted the mood but and Scotland should have kicked on but it was the visitors who responded to find the net again after 20 minutes. And again it was a goal worked down Scotland’s left with a ball fizzed across goal and Celta Vigo striker Strand Larsen got ahead of Jack Hendry to bundle past Clark. But the goals kept coming and the unfortunate Napoli stopper Ostigard turned a whipped in McTominay corner into his own net. Norway would have regained the lead but for Nathan Patterson’s superb goal-saving tackle to deny Donnum on the stroke of half-time as the teams went in level after a roller-coaster opening 45 minutes.
Clarke didn’t make any chances at the break and quickly emerged from the dressing room for the second half, giving the indication he had delivered a short and sharp team talk. Whatever he said seemed to have worked with Scotland better after the restart and Armstrong fired them ahead on the hour with a brilliantly taken goal after the Southampton man showed great determination to win the ball and play a one-two with McGinn but Norway had the final say with the late leveller. Here’s five talking points from Hampden Park:
Norway have final say to get a bit of revenge
Stale Solbakken was still having nightmares at losing two late goals in Oslo as Scotland earned a win back in June that was pivotal to qualification. But they certainly got a bit of their own back here on a night that was geared up for a victory. The party hats were out but Norway - and the miserable weather - made it a bleaker night.
Winless run extended
Okay, there won't be a major panic on and Steve Clarke has been without key players as well as playing some top nations - England, Spain and France - but a five-game run without a victory is a habit Scotland will want to get out when they go into the new year. It's likely they'll only play four games before the real stuff starts in Germany and they need to get momentum back.
Haste ye back five
There is no doubt Steve Clarke is going to feel the loss of two players of the quality of Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney. The Scotland manager solved the dilemma of fitting the two left backs into a system, using a back five that has been crucial to their success. And losing both through injury has been a hammer blow, not to mention new No. 1 Angus Gunn. The evidence of their loss was clear in the draw in Georgia and again here. Norway got joy down Scotland’s left with the two goals coming from that side and Clarke’s will be a happier man when he gets captain Robertson and Tierney back and he can revert to his back five system.
No Shanks, Jacob
The biggest surprise of Steve Clarke’s XI was Jacob Brown being handed a start in attack with most expecting Lawrence Shankland to be rewarded after his last-gasp leveller off the bench in Georgia. But it was Luton Town’s Brown who got the nod up front for what was his first start but it’s fair to say he didn’t make the most of his big opportunity with the 25-year-old contributing little before going off after 70 minutes. He missed a glorious chance just before Scotland’s third from a Nathan Patterson pass and you would have to assume Shankland would be ahead of him in Clarke’s thinking despite the Hearts man only getting the last few minutes here.
No Haaland, no Odegaard, no Euro 2024 hope - Nor big problem
Stale Solbakken was without his two main players in Erling Haaland and captain Martin Odegaard but you would never have known it - or that the visitors had nothing to play for - with Haaland’s Manchester City team-mate Oscar Bobb causing Scotland big problems.
The Norway boss told how the heartbreaking late defeat to Scotland in Oslo still gives him nightmare and they looked like a team on a mission despite officially being eliminated 24 hours earlier due to Israel’s 2-1 defeat to Romania. That means it will be a 26-year absence minimum before they get a chance to grace the major international stage again when the World Cup takes place in north America and Mexico with Norway’s last appearance at Euro 2000.