Four-goal Norway deliver hammer blow to Scots

OSLO: George Burley insists Scotland can still qualify for the World Cup despite watching his side's hopes of making it to South Africa 2010 being handed a massive blow as Norway dealt them a 4-0 thrashing in their Group Nine clash.

Two moments of madness in Oslo saw Scotland defender Gary Caldwell red-carded in the 35th minute for two bookings in a minute.

Former Liverpool player John Arne Riise's knocked a fierce free-kick in off Scott Brown before Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen clinically finished a chance in first-half injury time.

Erik Huseklepp's first international goal in the second-half and Pedersen's last minute free-kick gave Norway a comfortable victory, which could have been more.

Injuries to Steven Caldwell and substitute Christophe Berra meant the Scots ended the night with full-back Alan Hutton in the centre of defence.

But while Scotland gaffer Burley admitted the margin of victory could have been bigger for the Norwegians, he defended his team selection and tactics on the night.

"With the injuries we had and going down to ten-men we were up against it," Burley said. "They caused us problems going forward. In the second-half we kept playing and battling away but it wasn't our night and things went against us.

"Up to the sending off there wasn't a problem. We had the better of it I felt. They had one chance and we had two or three. But the sending off and then scoring from the free-kick changed the game completely.

"Overall we've lost it but we've still got two games left. So we need to win two and if we do I still feel we can get into the play-offs."

The Norwegians, with Egil Olsen back in charge, had started the match bottom of Group Nine but their win puts them just one point behind the Scots, who dropped to third place behind Macedonia on goal difference.

With just two qualifying games remaining it leaves Burley's men in danger of missing out on a place at South Africa 2010.

However, the Scotland boss, whose own position will be under scrutiny if Scotland fail to qualify, is confident wins at home to Macedonia and run-away group leaders the Netherlands will land Scotland second place and a play-off berth.

"I think six points will be enough - we've always said that," Burley said. "We need to win two games. We're at home so we've got to pull ourselves up and show our character after a bad defeat to try and get into that second-position and hopefully the play-offs.

"There are two games left and I said before we needed to win two games so nothing has changed. Tonight has been a disastrous result but circumstances have dictated that.

"We started the group looking to finish second. We can still do that and we can still get to the play-offs. "We can look for excuses, we can look for circumstances but it's gone. We didn't get any points tonight but we've got two games left. If we can't win them we don't deserve to get to the play-offs.

"We have six points there to get and that's certainly possible. Hopefully we don't have another night like tonight."