Football

Scotland's Matt Ritchie, left, celebrates scoring against Denmark.

Scotland hold on to beat Denmark after Matt Ritchie strikes early

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Matt Ritchie's intuitive early goal gave Scotland a hard-fought 1-0 win over Denmark in their friendly encounter at a rain-drenched Hampden Park.

The Bournemouth wide-man nipped in front of hesitant Danish skipper Daniel Agger in the eighth minute to confidently knock the ball past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to get the home side off to a positive start.

Denmark grew stronger after their slack start, with Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon having to make a few saves, the best in the second half from substitute Martin Braithwaite's close-range header.

But Gordon Strachan's men held out to build on their 1-0 win over Czech Republic in Prague last Thursday night.

That victory had been recorded with a totally different starting 11 as Strachan had named two match squads, but nevertheless confidence will have been improved as he now prepares for further friendlies against Italy and France ahead of Euro 2016, for which the Scots failed to qualify.

This match was a landmark occasion for Scotland skipper Scott Brown, who earned his 50th cap, while 18-year-old Celtic team-mate Kieran Tierney and Hibernian midfielder John McGinn made their debuts.

Those fans who had braved the weather on a sodden night at Hampden - the stadium was less than half full - saw Ritchie put the Scots ahead thanks to a dreadful mistake by Agger.

Brondby's former Liverpool defender was in control of a stray Brown pass but he misjudged the pace of the ball while shepherding it back to Schmeichel, allowing Ritchie to nip in and knock the ball past the Leicester number one, leaving the two Danish players to argue.

Denmark began to play a bit and in the 14th minute only a timely intervention by Tierney on Yussuf Poulsen, who had been sent though by Christian Eriksen, prevented the Denmark striker getting a shot on goal, with the visitors failing to capitalise from the corner.

It was all rather low-key although the Danes pressed with growing purpose.

In the 32nd minute forward Nicolai Jorgensen forced a good save from Gordon with a shot on the turn, moments after the Celtic goalkeeper had saved a close-range effort from the same player.

Charlie Mulgrew came on for Tierney at the start of the second half, with winger Ikechi Anya on for Steven Fletcher, as Jonas Lossl took over from Schmeichel in the Danish goal, the substitute goalkeeper soon having to tip a Shaun Maloney drive over the bar.

Derby striker Chris Martin replaced Leigh Griffiths in the 59th minute, ending a night of frustration for the Celtic striker who had been left isolated for long spells. After Celtic's Danish defender Erik Sviatchenko had replaced Agger, Liam Bridcutt came on for Maloney.

Still, Denmark came forward and in the 72nd minute Gordon made a fine double save, first blocking a powerful drive from Eriksen before brilliantly parrying the follow up header from substitute Braithwaite, on since the start of the second half for Poulson.

At the other end, after good work by Anya on the flank in a rare Scotland foray forward, Denmark defender Andreas Christensen threw himself to block Ritchie's goal-bound drive for a corner, which came to nothing.

Bridcutt received a yellow card from Norwegian referee Sveinn Oddvar Moen in the 79th minute for a robust challenge on Sviatchenko, which might have merited more on another occasion.

Nottingham Forest winger Oliver Burke came on to make his debut in place of Ritchie for the last 10 minutes and his cross was almost put into the net by Martin, albeit inadvertently, in the final minute, before the four added minutes came and went.

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