Late dramatics as Scotland end Euro campaign - how they rated
Scotland failed to sign off on the unqualified success of their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a victory to inspire dreams of delirium in Germany next summer, as the loss of a late equaliser saw them slip to a 3-3 draw with Norway at Hampden.
Twice behind to visitors whose own hopes of qualification had long since been killed off, the Scots were forced to battle and scrap their way back into the lead with half an hour of this game remaining.
And Steve Clarke might even feel that his team, who found the net via a John McGinn penalty, a Leo Ostigard own goal and a thumping Stuart Armstrong strike, were worthy of a 3-2 victory in their final competitive fixture before they make their second major finals appearance on his watch as head coach.
But former Celtic winger Mo Elyounoussi’s back-post header with five minutes remaining saw the visitors salvage a point that meant nothing to either side, on a night when the Scots put in a lot of effort – and produced a fair bit of entertainment for the home crowd.
Does the result matter? No. Not in the grand scheme of a campaign that ended with Clarke taking a look at some of his fringe players in this contest. A tactic that very nearly cost Scotland during a torrid start to the game.
On a night when everyone anticipated a party, with the mood at kick-off very much on the festive side of celebratory, Aron Donnum cutting against the grain to open the scoring for the visitors after just three minutes felt almost rude. Like a gate crasher barrelling through the front door, helping himself to your finest whisky and then commandeering the sound system to treat everyone to some A-ha deep cuts and B-sides.
Tartan Army favourite McGinn was having none of it, naturally. And he deserves enormous credit not just for equalising from the spot with 12 minutes gone, but for initially wining the free-kick that eventually led to the handball offence by Donnum, who was having an eventful evening.
Norway putting themselves back into the lead before 20 minutes had elapsed, with Jorgen Larsen claiming a finish that might have gone down as a Zander Clark own goal, confirmed the growing feeling that this was going to be a night full of incident.
And, sure enough, it only took another 12 minutes or so for Scotland to equalise for a second time, the luckless Leo Ostigard getting the final touch after Kenny McLean had flicked on Scott McTominay’s in-swinging corner from the left.
The stage was now set for Armstrong to send the Hampden crowd roaring with delight when he put Scotland 3-2 up just before the hour mark.
Armstrong and McGinn, Clark’s very own Dangerous Brothers, both showed great battling quality on the left-hand side, before playing a neat little-exchange of passes that ended with the former smashing the latter’s cut-back low and hard beyond a despairing Egil Selvik.
The community singing was in full swing by the time Elyounoussi popped up to temporarily mute the home fans, many of whom stayed behind for a deserved lap of honour by Scotland, whose efforts over the course of seven games rendered the eighth no more than an entertaining dead rubber.