Former Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough watched his first Northern Ireland home match end in disappointment with a thumping defeat to Norway, an ominous warning for Scotland.
The ex-Well boss took charge of his first game as Northern Irish boss last week, replacing Michael O’Neill following time as Northern Ireland U21s boss. A solid start was had during a 1-1 draw away to Romania, in which they played a large part of with 10 men.
His team, which includes SPFL players like Michael Smith of Hearts, Rangers’ Steven Davis and Motherwell’s Trevor Carson, met Norway last night in Baraclough’s first home game in Belfast.
It didn’t go to plan, Northern Ireland suffering their largest home defeat in 18 years with a 5-1 loss. It was a performance inspired by world-class Borussia Dortmund talent Erling Haland, who scored twice and assisted once during the convincing Norwegian win.
Scotland will have been looking over their shoulder at this one. Next month they will take to the Euro 2020 play-offs, Norway one of the potential play-off final opponents should Steve Clarke’s side beat Israel in the semi-final. Haland and co are favoured to beat their opposition, Serbia.
For Baraclough, it’s a shame that the former Motherwell man had his first game in the Belfast dugout marred by a heavy defeat. In Scotland’s case, this was a reminder of the level they need to be at to progress to next summer’s Euros.