Scotland 2-0 FYR Macedonia: Scottish Hopes Alive

Scotlandd Scotland kept their hopes of snatching a play-off spot in next summer’s World Cup alive with a hard-fought victory over Macedonia at Hampden Park.

The two teams began the game level on points in the group but the visitors looked the brighter side and enjoyed long spells of possession in the first half, much to the frustration of the home crowd.

Goran Pandev, in particular, was lively for Macedonia and forced goalkeeper Craig Gordon into a good save early on before Aco Stojkov fired another chance over the bar.

Scotland’s injury problems, already a headache before kick off, increased further mid-way through the first half with Callum Davidson hobbling off to be replaced by Steven Whittaker.

Yet minutes after the change the home side finally caught sight of goal with Scott Brown firing a half-volley just wide from a James McFadden free kick.

Indeed Brown was looking the most likely source of inspiration for the Scots, turning and firing another effort into the side-netting mid-way through the first period at a rain swept Hampden Park.

As half-time approached the Celtic man then turned villain, risking the wrath of the visiting side with some unsporting behaviour that enraged the opposition.

Instead of giving the ball back after treatment to the injured Naumoski, Brown instead won a corner much to the fury of the Macedonians.

Unsavoury as it may have been, that may have served to inspire George Burley’s men who emerged from the break looking far more determined.

Indeed within minutes of the restart Steven Fletcher had set up James McFadden but the Birmingham City conspired to miss horribly with a poor shot.

Suddenly the game sprang into life with Gordon denying Pandev before Brown, of all people, made the crucial breakthrough.

A cross from Fletcher on the left found the Celtic man at the far post and he headed home his first international goal.

Hampden Park erupted but was almost silenced 10 minutes later as Macedonia wasted a glorious chance to equalise.

A swift moved carved the Scots open but just as it seemed Slavco Georgievski would equalise he blasted his shot over the bar from all of 10 yards.

Burley’s men seemed to heed the warning and continued to attack and with 10 minutes to go McFadden made the game safe with a superb individual goal.

The former Everton man picked up possession in his own half, homed in on goal before calmly rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home with a glorious run to seal victory.

The win leapfrogs Scotland above Macedonia and into second place in the group behind Wednesday’s opposition, Holland, who tantalisingly for Burley’s men are already assured of their progress.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on September 5, 2009.

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