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Scotland qualify for Euro 2024 after Spain result confirms place

Scotland are one of the first teams to qualify for Germany next summer after an outstanding campaign under Steve Clarke

Jamie Braidwood
Sunday 15 October 2023 21:42 BST
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Scotland boss Steve Clarke on VAR controversy in their Euro 2024 qualifying defeat to Spain

Scotland have qualified for Euro 2024 with two games to spare after Spain defeated Norway in Oslo.

Steve Clarke’s side are now assured of one of the two automatic qualification spots in Group A and will play at just their second men’s major international tournament since 1998 in Germany next summer.

Norway had to beat Spain to keep their automatic qualification hopes alive, but Gavi’s second-half strike earned La Roja all three points. Spain are also now through, while Norway will have to advance via the play-offs if Erling Haaland and Martin Odegaard are to feature at next summer’s tournament.

Scotland were faced with a nervous wait after they were beaten by Spain in highly controversial circumstances on Thursday night , missing out on the chance to confirm their place at Euro 2024 at what was their first opportunity.

But an outstanding start to qualification, with five wins from their first five games, ensured Clarke’s side remained in a strong position to reach the tournament finals.

Spain’s victory in Oslo now means Scotland do not need to get anything out of their final two fixtures in November - away to Georgia and at home against Norway - in what could have been a tricky double header. They are now level on points with Spain in the race to finish as group winners, however, which could determine seeding when the Euro 2024 draw is in December.

Scotland manager Clarke also guided the Tartan Army to the Euro 2020 finals, after a dramatic play-off victory against Serbia, and will be determined to build on the experience of what was Scotland’s first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

“I would like to congratulate the players for their efforts in qualifying for back-to-back tournaments,” Clarke said in a statement released by the SFA. “I’m not sure they will fully realise the significance of their achievement yet but to qualify for successive Euros after more than 20 years is phenomenal and testament to their hard work.

“I would also like to thank my backroom team for their support and, of course, the fans who have packed Hampden Park to capacity and made it a place to be feared once again. They have played a key part in our success, both home and away, and they can now look forward to making their plans for Germany – although I suspect many had done so before tonight.

“I said after Euro 2020 that we wanted to be serial qualifiers again and reaching successive Euros finals shows the progress we’ve made. We will raise a glass tonight to celebrate but then it’s back to work tomorrow in preparation for our friendly against France [on Tuesday]. Then we turn our attention to Georgia and Norway next month and finishing with as many points as we can.”

Steve Clarke has led Scotland to a second major tournament (Getty Images)

Scotland will now look to reach the knockout stages of the Euros following what was a disappointing return to a major tournament last time out. Despite hosting two games at Hampden, Scotland were knocked out of Euro 2020 in the group stages following defeats to the Czech Republic and Croatia, in between a goalless draw against England at Wembley.

Scotland then missed out on a place at the 2022 World Cup after losing a play-off against Ukraine, but Clarke’s team shrugged off that disappointment to make a perfect start to the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

A memorable 2-0 victory over Spain at Hampden in March was followed by a stunning comeback win against Norway in June, with goals in the 87th and 89th minute earning a dramatic 2-1 turnaround against Haaland’s side.

Scotland also picked up maximum points from their fixtures against Cyprus and Georgia, with Scott McTominay playing a key part with six goals in qualifying. McTominay then saw a sublime free-kick ruled out by VAR in Seville last week, with Spain going on to win 2-0, but La Roja did Scotland a favour with their victory in Norway.

“It’s a great achievement for this squad to have qualified for Euro 2024 with two games remaining,” said Scotland captain Andy Robertson. When we qualified via the play-offs last time, we set ourselves a target of doing it automatically next time – so that’s the first mission accomplished.

“Euro 2020 was a great experience and the objective for us next summer is to build on that previous experience and improve on our last overall tournament performance.

“Our fans have been immense. We thank them for playing a huge part in our success and we look forward to seeing them in Germany in their tens of thousands.”

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