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Scotland produce stunning 2-0 victory over Denmark to secure seeded World Cup play-off spot

John Souttar wheels away in celebration after netting for Scotland against Denmark.
John Souttar wheels away in celebration after netting for Scotland against Denmark.

Scotland secured a seeded spot for the World Cup play-offs after rounding off their qualifying section with a stunning 2-0 victory over Denmark.

Steve Clarke’s men produced one of their most impressive results in recent history, with John Souttar marking his comeback to the national side with the opener, before Che Adams struck a late second to cap a stellar attacking display.

The Danes, who are ranked 10th in the world and reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals, had won all nine of their previous Group F fixtures.

The Scots had already clinched their place in March’s play-offs with their 2-0 victory over Moldova on Friday. The incentive of being among the seeded nations for the play-offs was still up for grabs however, with a point against the Danes the bare minimum requirement.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke during the World Cup qualifier against Denmark.

Scotland’s victory ensures them of that however, rounding off an outstanding campaign in which their only defeat came away to the Danes in September.

Clarke made three changes from the side which triumphed in Chisinau. Suspension ruled out Nathan Patterson, while Stuart Armstrong and Jack Hendry also dropped out. That prompted recalls for Stephen O’Donnell and Ryan Christie, while Souttar won his first cap for more than three years.

There was also no place for forward Lyndon Dykes, who had been rated as having a 50-50 chance in advance of the match. Five of Scotland’s starting 11 went into the game knowing a yellow card would rule them out of the first play-off match.

Scotland’s Billy Gilmour takes a corner against Denmark at Hampden.

The Scots began on the front foot but struggled to trouble Kasper Schmeichel in the early stages. It was the visitors who had the first glimpse at goal after eight minutes when the ball was worked into the path of Daniel Wass inside the box, but he was unable to get a clean connection on his effort which trundled wide.

Denmark once again underlined their threat on 16 minutes, with Andreas Christensen taking aim with a long-range strike which drifted narrowly over Craig Gordon’s crossbar.

There was never any sustained pressure from the visitors however, and the belief among Clarke’s side quickly began to shine through.

The combination of Adams, linking up with Christie and Andy Robertson caused the Danes an abundance of problems down the left flank. Scotland also threatened from a succession of corners, with Kieran Tierney unable to guide a Billy Gilmour set-piece on target.

Scotland’s Che Adams has a shot on goal against Denmark.

The Scots’ best chance of the first half came on 23 minutes though, when Christie showed impressive tenacity to lay a Gilmour delivery into Adams’ path, however the striker was foiled by the left leg of Schmeichel.

Scotland kept up the pressure, with John McGinn seeing a strike blocked behind by Joakim Maehle, while Adams also saw an effort diverted wide after Robertson had cushioned a sublime diagonal ball from Christie into his path.

The Scots’ probing finally paid off on 36 minutes when they secured a richly-deserved lead. McGinn’s deep corner was nodded back across goal by Liam Cooper, setting up fellow centre-half Souttar to mark his comeback with a header which nestled in Schmeichel’s net.

Scotland’s John Souttar celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 against group winners Denmark.

Denmark showed flashes of their danger on the stroke of half-time, with Wass seeing a drilled low strike deflected inches wide.

Scotland remained in the driving seat however they survived a scare just eight minutes after the break when Craig Gordon had to made a full stretch save to keep out Andreas Cornelius’ header, only for the offside flag to be raised several seconds later.

The hosts got back into their stride, with their set-pieces continuing to cause issues for the Danish rearguard. A powerful effort from Gilmour forced a strong save from Schmeichel, while Adams, who was subsequently pulled up for offside, and Tierney both hit the woodwork in quick succession.

Scotland were forced to weather late pressure, however Adams was to have the final say with a goal his outstanding display deserved. After latching on to a deft Armstrong through ball, Adams showed excellent composure to tuck past Schmeichel and send the Tartan Army into raptures.



SCOTLAND (3-4-2-1) – Gordon 7; Souttar 8, Cooper 8, Tierney 8 (Ralston 88); O’Donnell 8, Gilmour 8 (McLean 74), McGregor 8, Robertson 8 (McKenna 79); McGinn 8, Christie 8 (Armstrong 79); Adams 9. Subs not used – Clark, McLaughlin, Porteous, Turnbull, Nisbet, Ferguson, Brown.


DENMARK (4-3-3) – Schmeichel 7; Kristensen 6, Kjaer 6, Vestergaard 6, Maehle 7; Wass 7 (Dreyer 81), Christensen 6 (Bah 81), Jonsson 5 (Stage 56); Skov Olsen 6, Cornelius 6 (Uhre 72), Bruun Larsen 5 (Sisto 56). Subs not used – Vindahl-Jensen, Ronnow, Maxso, Riis.

Referee – Alejandro Hernandez (Spain) 6

Attendance – 49,527

Man of the match: Che Adams