Scotland’s successful Euro 2024 qualifying campaign ended with a thrilling draw as Mohamed Elyounoussi’s late equaliser earned Norway a point at Hampden.
Steve Clarke’s side had already secured their place in Germany next summer but had to settle for second place in Group A, with Spain, as expected, overcoming Georgia to win the section.
The Scots twice came from behind in the first half, with sloppily-conceded goals scored by Aron Donnum and Jorgen Larsen cancelled out by John McGinn’s penalty and Leo Ostigard’s own goal.
Stuart Armstrong’s strike looked to have earned another win in front of a jubilant Tartan Army, before former Celtic winger Elyounoussi capitalised on a wonderful, floated ball to level late on.
Scotland now await the Euro 2024 draw next month, for which they will be among the third pot of seeds.
With key players missing, this was an opportunity for squad players to impress. Scotland started with a back four but, with the likes of Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson unavailable, they looked exposed, particularly in the first half.
Norway capitalised when the impressive Oscar Bobb caused havoc, Larsen outmuscled the defence and Donnum stroked home the loose ball via a deflection off Nathan Patterson and a post.
The response was swift in front of a party-mode Tartan Army, determined to celebrate their passage to Germany.
After McGinn was caught on the edge of the box, the free-kick was half-cleared but a follow-up shot struck Donnum’s arm and McGinn netted his 18th international goal from the penalty spot.
His contribution has been overshadowed in this campaign by the exploits of Scott McTominay, but the ovation the Aston Villa midfielder received when substituted said it all as he moved to sixth on Scotland’s all-time goalscoring list alongside Kenny Miller.
Scotland were caught again, though, when they failed to defend a ball from the right and Larsen nipped in front of the despairing Clark to bundle home. Again, the defending looked suspect.
To their credit, Clarke’s side responded once again when Kenny MacLean flicked on McTominay’s corner and the ball rebounded off Ostigard and over the line.
Scotland side exerted more control after half-time and Armstrong looked to have secured victory with a fine finish after an excellent exchange with McGinn.
Norway would not be denied though as Julian Ryerson’s dink caught Clark out and Elyounoussi made sure with a neat back-post header to offer small consolation for their failure to qualify directly.
Qualification and the absence of key players presented the opportunity for some more peripheral Scotland figures to showcase their Euro 2024 credentials.
There seemed a real determination to sign off this campaign in style and that led to a game that was far more open than you’d expect.
Armstrong was one who stood out with a quality performance that showed his value. Jacob Brown struggled at times but increasingly got involved as his confidence grew. Whether that was enough we shall see.
Defensively, though, there were questions to answer. With Angus Gunn, Tierney, Robertson and Aaron Hickey all injured, Scotland looked exposed for both goals.
There’s depth there but too many goals have been conceded of late, something that will undoubtedly be analysed going forward in terms of formation and personnel.
There’s clearly room for improvement, but the bottom line is this has been a wonderful qualifying campaign with the hard work done early and qualification for back-to-back Euros secured in style.
The Hampden after-party was electric. This result didn’t really matter. Scotland have delivered and can look forward to another major tournament with hope of making an impression.
Scotland head coach Steve Clarke: “I think you saw the first half was a little bit of a flat performance from the team – second half we played a little bit more like ourselves.
“This group of players have never qualified for a tournament this early. We have to learnt to turn up and win games.
“You are not looking for the fear of losing or dropping points and you have to find a different way to motivate the players so that is probably something me and the players have to work on.
“I think we need to go away, prepare well and be competitive. That is all we promise. We are going to go to Germany and try to do that next summer.”
Scotland captain John McGinn: “The qualification campaign has been amazing. I’m just so proud of the way the boys have handled it.
“Tonight was a bit strange for everyone. I think the punters were a bit surprised we had actually qualified.
“We didn’t start the game well, Norway deserved to go ahead at half-time, no doubt. We probably got away with one. Second half, we were much, much better and we feel a bit hard done by at the end.”
Norway head coach Stale Solbakken: “Steve Clarke is a great coach with disciplined players. They don’t pretend to be anything they’re not. They’ll be a handful for everyone, they can play two systems.
“There will be no easy games for those who’re going to play Scotland [at next year’s Euros in Germany].”