Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer managed to avoid a real embarrassment last night in the Malta vs Norway clash.
The Maltese managed to peg back the Norwegians thanks to Paul Fenech in the first half. There was nothing Ajer could do about the Malta goal, but for spells it looked as though the home side would see it out for a famous point.
Fortunately for Ajer’s Norway, Alexander Sorloth added to Joshua King’s opener to make sure there would be no shock on the cards midway through the second 45.
Ajer’s side dominated in Malta, but allowed the bottom seeds of the group to have the odd opening.
Unfortunately for Ajer and co, the win wasn’t enough to provide them with automatic qualification. Sweden’s win against the Faroe Islands last night meant that they finished four points clear of third-placed Norway.
Ajer still has the prospect of the playoffs in March of course. There’s still a good chance we see him qualify for the Euros should they win their two games after the turn of the year.
An international break to forget for Kristoffer
Norway may have picked up six points out of six in this break, but ironically, it’s been one to forget for Ajer. Both games had little meaning, and it was always going to be a no-win situation against the Faroes and Malta.
The big games for him will come next year. There is a chance we could see him take on Scotland at Hampden too if the draw puts the two sides together.
Ajer will be disappointed that his side allowed the Swedes to qualify instead. Norway have actually only lost one game in the group and are unbeaten in their last nine. However, an incredible five games in their group ended in a draw. That’s what’s effectively done them in.
Hopefully, Ajer comes back with some confidence after back-to-back wins. But the win in Malta wasn’t anything to shout about given how much they struggled.
He should slot right back in at Parkhead alongside Christopher Jullien, as the pair look to continue their own fruitful partnership at the heart of our defence.
So long as he returns with no injury problems, we can’t really ask for anything more.