Clarke hails Scotland character | Robertson: We have to qualify now


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

Clarke’s side 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.

Group A

‘We never stopped believing’

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.

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Scotland striker Lyndon Dykes says watching the ball cross the line for his opener in Norway was the slowest thing he’s ever seen!

“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.”

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Kenny McLean insists there is more to come from Scotland after his late goal earned them a dramatic victory away to Norway in Euro 2024 qualifying

‘We have to go again’

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.”

Robertson: We have to qualify now

Scotland's Andy Robertson and Norway's Martin Odegaard shake hands ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifier
Scotland’s Andy Robertson and Norway’s Martin Odegaard shake hands ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifier

Meanwhile, Scotland captain Andrew Robertson insists his side now have to qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany.

He said: “The lads who came off the bench did so well. Going behind is difficult, but we knew this was the next step in our improvement.

“It was trying to get the balance right. The team spirit is second to none. To create that in international football is unique.

“We couldn’t have started this campaign better. We have to qualify now.”

McLean hails Scotland’s ‘outstanding character’

Scotland’s match-winner Kenny McLean:

“It’s quite hard to put into words just now. It’s a good feeling, especially being the winner. The lads did so much, and we made the changes and got some momentum after the first goal.

“Goals change games and they did for us. We were hanging in at the end. The lads who played 90 minutes out there, I don’t know how they did it. I was sat in the dugout sweating. Just watching it I was knackered.

“We’ve worked so hard over the last few weeks, results like this make it worthwhile. We’re in a decent position, but we want to be in an even better position.

“The character to come back from that is outstanding. I think we can still do better with the ball. But listen, I’ll take that all day.”

‘Game against Georgia huge now’

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David Marshall watches in disbelief as Scotland score two goals in as many minutes to beat Norway in Oslo in the game’s last few minutes

Former Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall on Sky Sports News:

“It’s a fantastic start to qualifying. Looking at the table it makes for great reading.

“They’ve played and beaten Spain and also won in Norway. Hampden Park will be bouncing on Tuesday night as Scotland look to back this result up against Georgia.

“A win on Tuesday would put Scotland in a fantastic position to qualify. They’d be disappointed not to qualify from that position.

Scotland's Lyndon Dykes and Kenny McLean at full time
Scotland’s Lyndon Dykes and Kenny McLean at full time

“It’s a huge game against Georgia now.

“The form they are in now is great. They are eight points ahead of Norway with five games to go, and Norway still have to come to Glasgow.

“That’s the last game of the campaign but hopefully it is done and dusted by then.

“If they can go and win the next two games against Georgia and Cyprus then I see no reason why we won’t be heading to Euro 2024.”

Opta stats: Three from three for the first time since 2008

OSLO, NORWAY - JUNE 17: Scotland's Kenny McLean celebrates after making it 2-1 during a UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier match between Norway and Scotland at the Ullevaall Stadion, on June 17, 2023, in Oslo, Norway.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Kenny McLean celebrates after making it 2-1

  • Scotland have won their opening three qualifying games for a major tournament (Euros/World Cup) for the first time since qualifying for Euro 2008 under Walter Smith.
  • Scotland have lost just one of their last nine away games against Norway (W6 D2), winning three of their last four visits (L1).
  • There were just 104 seconds between Dykes’ equaliser (1-1) and McLean’s winner (2-1) for Scotland scored in the 89th minute.

Solbakken: We are in a difficult position

Norway's Martin Odegaard looks dejected at full time
Norway’s Martin Odegaard looks dejected at full-time

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 Ostigard. 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.”

Norway reaction: ‘What happened shouldn’t happen’

Norway captain Martin Odegaard:

“It’s hard to sum up. We had the lead with a few minutes to go, what happened after that shouldn’t happen.

“It’s a tough one to take. It’s going to be very difficult now [to qualify], we have to be honest. We have to stick together and take it from there.

“I didn’t think Scotland played a great game, to be honest. But they have a great spirit and fight to the end, credit to them.”

What’s next

Scotland fixtures

Scotland’s next Euro 2024 qualifier is against Georgia at Hampden Park on Tuesday night. Kick-off 7.45pm.

Up next for Norway is another home game against Cyprus, also on Tuesday; kick-off 7.45pm.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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