Scotland 0-1 Northern Ireland: Conor Bradley’s first international goal extends hosts’ winless run

Conor Bradley’s first Northern Ireland goal drained more life out of Scotland’s Euro 2024 preparations at Hampden by extending their winless run to seven games.

The 20-year-old Liverpool full-back, playing in a more advanced role, added another personal milestone in a dream breakout season by dipping a deflected first-half winner into the top-right corner.

Nathan Patterson’s cheap error in the build-up epitomised a poor showing from Steve Clarke’s Germany-bound side, who were lucky to avoid conceding again before the break when Shea Charles somehow curled wide from close range.

A laboured first-half display from the hosts, during which they failed to register a shot on target despite having much more of the ball, was compounded by a suspected ankle injury suffered by captain Andy Robertson.

Lewis Ferguson, the Liverpool left-back’s replacement, had a close-range effort blocked shortly after the break and a late header tipped over just moments before Lawrence Shankland looped one of his own off target.

But Clarke’s men did not show enough improvement and imagination in the second half to break down Michael O’Neill’s well-drilled away side, who are now unbeaten in their last three games.

In the previous encounter between these two in March 2015, it was Northern Ireland who were warming up for a European Championship against a Scotland side looking to revitalise itself. This time, roles were reversed.

You would not have known that on the basis of this meeting, though. Scotland lacked ideas. Northern Ireland had a gameplan that worked to a tee.

O’Neill’s side were compact from front to back, affording the frustrated Scots very little space to penetrate passes and reducing them to shots from distance from Ryan Christie and Scott McTominay, both of whom should have done better.

The visitors, whose only shot on target was their goal, were happy to sit back on their lead after the break – and why not?

It was a formula that worked for O’Neill and his players, who celebrated a first away win in more than a year in front of a wild away support at full time. Try telling them it was just a friendly.

Player of the match – Conor Bradley (Northern Ireland)

Conor Bradley of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland, and Liverpool, have a gem on their hands in this young man – endless energy, versatile and superb quality on the ball

O’Neill making mark again as Scots struggle for momentum – analysis

Even amid the boos at Hampden, most of the Tartan Army will find it difficult to be too hard on a team and manager who are comfortably the most successful Scotland team of the past 25 years.

But there are real concerns for Clarke, whose side look to have taken a backwards step after such a stellar qualifying campaign.

Friendlies or not, these games were vital if Scotland want to avoid a second straight disappointment at a second straight Euros.

The injury to Robertson is a obvious worry, but so is a serious lack of pace in attacking areas. Much is made of a lack of clinical edge from the strikers, but arguably just as glaring is a shortage of forwards who can stretch play.

As for Northern Ireland, they do not have a summer in Germany to look forward to, but their manager is demonstrating his credentials again as his second stint clicks into gear.

Bradley will be the poster boy for this young squad, but there is more than the Liverpool man to be inspired by in this team, who must now build on three very impressive results against Denmark, Romania and Scotland.

What they said

Scotland manager Steve Clarke: “Northern Ireland did everything we expected them to do. They defended with their lives. They were good, we weren’t quite good enough to break them down.

“I think a lot of the players tried to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. We just didn’t create the clear-cut chance that would have got us back in the game. We huffed and puffed a bit, but it wasn’t our night.

“It’s obviously better if you’re winning, but the key is to peak in June, not March. Hopefully we peak in June.”

Northern Ireland right-back Conor Bradley: “I’m absolutely buzzing, I don’t think I could have dreamt of it going the way it did.

“To get the 1-0 win is just fantastic and it’s a great night all-round. I think we still have lots of places to improve, but that was a great performance. I think at times we could have been a bit better on the ball.

“To defend the way we did for the 90 minutes and keep a clean sheet here at Hampden, obviously Scotland are going to the Euros and they are a great side full or Premier League players.”

Match stats

  • Northern Ireland earned their win in Scotland in 11 attempts, since a 1-0 victory in May 1974. It is also just the second time that they have managed to score during that run, after a 1-1 draw in March 1981.
  • Scotland are winless in each of their last seven games (D2 L5) – their worst run since August 2004-March 2005. It is also the first time they have failed to keep a clean sheet in seven consecutive games since March 2017.
  • Scotland have won just one of their previous 13 friendlies (D3 L9), and have lost each of their last five.
  • Northern Ireland managed just four shots – their fewest in their last 12 games. It was the fewest they have had in a victory since March 2018 (four shots v South Korea).
  • Conor Bradley scored his first Northern Ireland goal on his 15th appearance. He is the youngest Northern Irishman to score in Scotland (20y 261d) since George Best in November 1964 (18y 187d).
  • Bradley’s goal made him the second Liverpool player to score for Northern Ireland, after Billy Lacey against England in February 1914.
  • Stuart Armstrong is the fourth player to win his 50th Scotland cap in a match against a fellow British home nation, after George Young in 1956 (v Northern Ireland), Kenny Dalglish in 1977 (v Wales) and Joe Jordan in 1982 (v Wales).

What’s next?

Scotland return to action in June with two final Euro 2024 warm-up games with Gibraltar and Finland.

Northern Ireland do not play again until a double-header with Luxembourg and Bulgaria kicks off their Nations League campaign.



Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Gunn
  • 13Hendry
  • 5Cooper
  • 6Tierney
  • 22Patterson
  • 4McTominay
  • 14GilmourBooked at 55minsSubstituted forMcLeanat 70′minutes
  • 3RobertsonSubstituted forFergusonat 37′minutes
  • 7McGinnSubstituted forS Armstrongat 78′minutes
  • 11ChristieSubstituted forShanklandat 78′minutes
  • 9DykesSubstituted forAdamsat 70′minutes


  • 2Ralston
  • 10Adams
  • 12Kelly
  • 15Porteous
  • 16Souttar
  • 17S Armstrong
  • 18Shankland
  • 19Ferguson
  • 20Taylor
  • 21Clark
  • 23McLean
  • 24Gordon

Northern Ireland

Formation 5-4-1

  • 1Peacock-Farrell
  • 3Hume
  • 4Ballard
  • 17McNair
  • 5Toal
  • 20Spencer
  • 2BradleySubstituted forSmythat 83′minutes
  • 16McCannBooked at 21minsSubstituted forThompsonat 87′minutes
  • 19Charles
  • 14PriceSubstituted forMcMenaminat 83′minutes
  • 10ReidSubstituted forMagennisat 57′minutes


  • 6Donnelly
  • 7McMenamin
  • 8Marshall
  • 9Lavery
  • 11Smyth
  • 12Hazard
  • 13Lane
  • 15Thompson
  • 18Boyd-Munce
  • 21Magennis
  • 22Brown
  • 23Southwood

Live Text

Player of the match

BradleyConor Bradley


  1. Squad number6Player nameTierney

  2. Squad number19Player nameFerguson

  3. Squad number1Player nameGunn

  4. Squad number23Player nameMcLean

  5. Squad number11Player nameChristie

  6. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  7. Squad number3Player nameRobertson

  8. Squad number4Player nameMcTominay

  9. Squad number14Player nameGilmour

  10. Squad number17Player nameS Armstrong

  11. Squad number5Player nameCooper

  12. Squad number18Player nameShankland

  13. Squad number10Player nameAdams

  14. Squad number13Player nameHendry

  15. Squad number9Player nameDykes

  16. Squad number22Player namePatterson

Northern Ireland

  1. Squad number2Player nameBradley

  2. Squad number4Player nameBallard

  3. Squad number20Player nameSpencer

  4. Squad number3Player nameHume

  5. Squad number5Player nameToal

  6. Squad number19Player nameCharles

  7. Squad number17Player nameMcNair

  8. Squad number16Player nameMcCann

  9. Squad number1Player namePeacock-Farrell

  10. Squad number14Player namePrice

  11. Squad number7Player nameMcMenamin

  12. Squad number10Player nameReid

  13. Squad number11Player nameSmyth

  14. Squad number15Player nameThompson

  15. Squad number21Player nameMagennis

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