Scotland Keep Germany Hopes Alive

Last updated : 04 September 2005 By Southside Johnny
Scotland drew 1-1 with Italy at Hampden Park this
afternoon, a result that only just keeps alive their
slim hopes of qualifying for Germany 2006, but came so
close to a win that would have transformed their
prospects of being at the World Cup.

Only once before in seven games have the Scots
overcome the Italians - at the same venue forty years
ago when John Greig's last-minute winner following a
one-two with Jim Baxter stays so long in the memory.

The Italians were first to show - Christian Vieri
breaking free to test Craig Gordon with a 25-yards
shot that the goalkeeper held in eight minutes.

The opening goal arrived at the other end four minutes
later however - Kenny Miller heading home from a Paul
Hartley cross.

The Hearts midfielder was creating all sorts of
problems on the right flank - as was former Ranger
Miller's pace up front.

The Scots were pressing and harassing their more
illustrious visitors who seldom looked like levelling

Slovakian Referee Lubos Michels, who officiated at the
Valencia - Rangers Champions' League tie in 1999-2000
as well as the 2003 UEFA Cup Final, was spraying
yellow cards around like confetti, seven in total,
including one for Christian Dailly for a foul on
Francesco Totti that will rule the West Ham defender
out of the Norway tie in Oslo on Wednesday.

Miller's goal still separated the teams at the
interval, but the Azzurri were gradually forcing their
way into the match as the second-half developed and
were almost gifted an equaliser in 63 minutes when a
Graham Alexander error allowed Francesco Totti to
cross to Vieri who really should have done better than
shoot over the bar.

The inevitable equaliser finally arrived twelve
minutes later however when a poorly-defended corner
from Fabio Cannavaro saw Darren Fletcher deflect the
ball goalwards only for Craig Gordon to make an
instinctive save - the loose ball falling for
substitute Fabio Grosso who drove the ball into the
roof of the net.

Scotland Manager Walter Smith had cause to be enraged
at the loss of the goal, given that he had been trying
to replace the injured Miller with Craig Beattie
before the corner was taken, fourth official Pavel
Olsiak of Slovakia being obliged to replace the
electronic board with a manual one.

The Scots were hanging on now as the Italians pressed
for the winner - Andrea Pirlo's twenty-yard free-kick
flashing just wide in 82 minutes.

With time running out and the home side almost on
their knees a collective groan resounded around the
Mount Florida ground when the self-same fourth
official indicated four minutes of injury time.

Scotland nevertheless held out for a draw that keeps
alive the World Cup dream, and afterwards Walter Smith

"I couldn't have asked for any more from any of my
players. We got off to a good start, and I was
disappointed at the manner in which we lost the goal.
We were under a lot of pressure in the second-half. We
must try to win every game remaining. The referee was
free with his cards."

SCOTLAND Gordon; McNamara, Webster; Dailly, Weir,
Ferguson; Fletcher, Alexander, Miller (Beattie 75),
Hartley, Quashie (McCann 65)
UNUSED SUBS Douglas, S. Caldwell, McFadden, Murray,

ITALY Peruzzi; Zaccardo (Grosso 45), Zambrotta;
Gattuso, Cannavaro, Nesta; De Rossi (Camoranesi 59),
Pirlo, Vieri, Totti, Iaquinta (Toni 70)
UNUSED SUBS De Sanctis, Materazzi, Barone, Del Piero

REFEREE Lubos Michel (Slovakia)
Attendance 50,185