Scotland end fine campaign on a high as they end Denmark’s run

Steve Clarke’s side light up Hampden Park to secure a seeding in World Cup play-offs

Scotland 2 Denmark 0

Not content with simply progressing to the World Cup play-offs, Scotland decided they may as well be seeds. This victory over a previously imperious Denmark team on a raucous, special evening on Glasgow's south side proved the fitting conclusion to a successful campaign for Steve Clarke and his team.

Scotland have now won six games in a row; their only frustration is the wait until March for the first of two games Clarke hopes will return the country to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. On this evidence, Scotland should show no fear. They rattled, harassed and essentially outplayed Denmark. Incredibly, Clarke’s team finished four points behind the Danes in Group F. Seeding will make what comes next slightly easier.

The switch in public attitudes towards the Scotland team was demonstrated by the scarcity of available tickets for this encounter. Under Clarke, the upwardly mobile Scots have broken the mould of failed campaign after failed campaign. Following this team has become fashionable once more. It was typical of the manager’s approach that this fixture was deemed significant despite the play-off berth being secured days earlier in Moldova.


Clarke was also understandably focused on the officials. Five of the starting XI here – Stephen O'Donnell, Billy Gilmour, John McGinn, Che Adams and Andy Robertson – would be suspended for the play-off semi final if they collected a yellow card. Jack Hendry would have been in the same category but missed out through injury. Denmark's passage to Qatar was booked long ago. They arrived in Glasgow seeking to complete the perfect 10 out of 10 qualifying wins. In the midst of their run was a comprehensive dismissal of Scotland in Copenhagen.

After a bright start from Scotland, the visitors served notice of their intentions via Daniel Wass. The Valencia midfielder, arriving late in the penalty area, bundled narrowly wide from Rasmus Kristensen’s cross. Roared on by a boisterous travelling support, Denmark went close again through Andreas Christensen’s long-range effort.

Scotland remained hugely competitive. Midway through the opening half, in concluding a sweeping move kept alive by the tenacity of Ryan Christie, Adams forced Kasper Schmeichel to make a terrific save with an outstretched foot. The majority of Hampden was already on its feet to acclaim the opening goal. That heralded a concerted spell of Scotland pressure. Adams was denied a wonderful goal at the end of a break that included a spectacular Christie pass, by Simon Kjær's last-ditch block.

Denmark were powerless, however, to prevent John Souttar’s opener. The Hearts defender, who has endured a horrible time with serious injury, delivered a moment of huge personal significance by nodding home from six yards after Liam Cooper headed McGinn’s corner perfectly into Souttar’s path. The 25-year-old’s celebrations expressed catharsis after his years of turmoil. Kieran Tierney’s deflection from a Wass shot maintained Scotland’s deserved lead at the interval.

Matters simmered down to a dull roar in the opening stages of the second half. Set pieces appeared Scotland’s best hope of a crucial second, with Schmeichel looking surprisingly ill at ease under crosses. Not that open play was completely ineffective; Gilmour tested the Leicester City custodian from long range before Adams cracked a post from a narrow angle.

The Southampton forward, who was terrific all evening, was belatedly flagged offside but the Tartan Army’s belief continued to rise. Against the world’s 10th-ranked team, this was significant in itself.

That Robertson, the Scotland captain, limped off with 11 minutes to play put a minor dampener on the evening for the hosts, but smiles were soon back on faces. The outstanding Adams stayed onside, ran on to Stuart Armstrong’s through-ball and slammed beyond Schmeichel. Hampden erupted.

“No Scotland, no party” rang from the stands. The revival of this scene under Clarke deserves the most fulsome of praise. - Guardian