SCOTT Brown’s third goal for his country handed Scotland a 1-0 victory in their international friendly against Norway in Molde.
Ten years to the day since the Dark Blues had been hammered 6-0 by Holland as they crashed out of the Euro 2004 play-offs, Gordon Strachan’s side gave another sign that they may once again be rediscovering their confidence on the international stage.
The home side had dominated the first hour at a freezing Aker Stadion but skipper Brown fired home a well-struck right-foot shot on 61 minutes to stretch the Dark Blues’ unbeaten run to four games.
However the Celtic midfielder - currently serving a three match Champions League ban for kicking out at Barcelona superstar Neymar - was lucky to even be on the pitch at that stage after he kicked out at Norway defender Vegard Forren midway through the first period.
It was not spotted by Swedish referee Martin Strombergsson and Brown went on to give Scotland another reason to be cheerful after wins over Macedonia and Croatia, and Friday night’s 0-0 draw with the United States.
The hosts had to call in the Tartan Army to provide some extra muscle and help clear the pitch after a day of heavy snow flurries but the result was far from perfect.
The surface was mudsoaked and sodden but thankfully for the 200-strong band of supporters who had travelled to western Norway, fears that the match would not start were mis-founded.
Strachan made five alterations to the side that drew 0-0 with the United States at Hampden on Friday, but he could not find space in his starting line-up for Kilmarnock’s Kris Boyd - who remained unused on the bench - as Steven Naismith was chosen to replace Steven Fletcher in attack.
As the players got used to the uncertain footing, Scotland were handed the first opening of the match.
Norway stopper Orjan Haskjold Nyland raced towards the corner to boot clear a misplaced backpass after seven minutes but, under pressure from Naismith, he sent the ball on to the feet of Anya.
Thankfully for the debutant Molde stopper the Watford winger pulled his shot wide with the goal gaping.
At the other end, David Marshall was quick off his line too to clear as Barnsley’s Marcus Pedersen ran through, while he was down smartly to parry as Morten Gamst Pedersen’s cross was headed down by Ola Kamara as the home side built some early pressure.
The match was wide open even at such an early stage and the home side found space in behind the exposed Alan Hutton to open up the Dark Blues again on 12 minutes as Marshall had to gather Kamara’s 20-yard strike at the second attempt with Marcus Pedersen sniffing.
With Norway cutting through his side far too regularly for his liking, Strachan switched from a five to a four-man midfield as Bryson pushed wide to the right and Robert Snodgrass joined Everton’s Naismith up top.
The plan was to make it harder for the Norwegians to bring the ball out of defence but the home side continued to find the room to pour forward.
Norway should have taken the lead 10 minutes after the break as substitute Mohammed Abdellaoue drove into the box before rolling back for Pedersen, who was again denied by Marshall’s instinctive block.
But just as the travelling Scotland fans wondered if they would ever see a shot on target, Brown found the net.
Bannan fed the ball to the Celtic midfielder on the edge of the hosts’ box but after his attempt to find Naismith failed, he pounced on the loose ball and thudded a powerful daisy-cutter into the bottom corner as Nyland dived in despair.
It was hardly deserved but the Tartan Army were just glad to find something to take their minds off the bracing conditions which had dropped into minus figures.
Norway were understandably shocked by the loss of the goal but after regaining their composure they continued to attack with menace.
Pedersen was on target after 77 minutes as he fired a low strike from the edge of the box but once more Marshall’s reactions were perfect as he made the save, while Brown blocked from Abdellaoue 10 yards out moments later.
But substitute Anders Konradsen really should have levelled in the final minute as he pushed his shot wide of the far post from just eight yards out.