McManus spares Scots blushes
Stephen McManus' stoppage-time winner saved Scotland from a humiliating draw against Liechtenstein.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 07/09/10 10:56pm
Stephen McManus headed home in the seventh minute of stoppage time to save Scotland from the humiliation of a shock draw against Liechtenstein.
Scotland struggled to break Liechtenstein down in the first half of Craig Levein's first competitive match at Hampden, when captain Darren Fletcher also won his 50th cap.
The part-timers of Liechtenstein should be rightly pleased with the first-half display yet the perennial minnows took a surprise lead within a minute of the restart through captain Mario Frick.
The introduction of James Morrison and Barry Robson lifted the Scots and Kenny Miller volleyed in a 63rd-minute equaliser, although they still toiled in pursuit of a much-needed winner.
Five minutes of added time were indicated but further stoppages meant the game went into a 97th minute, when defender McManus rose highest to head home from Robson's corner with almost the last touch of the game.
That saved Scotland from one of their most embarrasing results and made sure their Euro 2012 qualification hopes weren't dealt a devastating below with the campaign barely under way.
Friday's 0-0 draw in Lithuania means Scotland are joint top of Group I with four points from their opening two qualifiers
Boyd and McFadden recall
Levein opted for two up front after being held to a 0-0 draw in Lithuania on Friday, and Kris Boyd made his first start in three years partnering former Rangers strike partner Miller.
James McFadden was also recalled after being named on the bench in Lithuania, while Lee Wallace was given the nod at left-back in place of the injured Steven Whittaker.
McFadden delivered a teasing free-kick early on which was headed over by Lee McCulloch from six yards but later looked off the pace and made way for Morrison at the break.
Although Scotland dominated possession in the first half they failed to break the visitors down and Boyd dragged a long-range effort well wide after a quick free-kick by Fletcher.
The Middlesbrough striker had another chance when Miller did well to beat a couple of players before delivering to the back post where Boyd was waiting to nod home but Yves Oehri did enough to ensure the attempt was just off target.
With half-time approaching, the visitors threatened when Sandro Weiser and Michele Polverino exchanged a one-two before Weiser's effort was smothered by Allan McGregor in the Scotland goal.
Liechtenstein's national anthem - the same tune as God Save the Queen - was jeered ahead of kick-off but the boos that rang around the stadium at the half-time whistle were for very different reasons.
But, if the Tartan Army were unhappy at the end of the first half, they were stunned into silence at the start of the second.
Liechtenstein surged into the lead when David Hassler whipped in a dangerous cross from the left for Frick and McManus stood off, allowing the skipper to take the ball down on his thigh, turn inside the box and then curl the ball beyond the outstretched hands of McGregor.
There was more bad news for the Scots when Wallace was forced out of the action following a challenge by Martin Stocklasa, which earned him a caution, so Robson was then thrown into the action by Levein.
Robson's name was quickly added to the Ukrainian referee's book for his complaints after not being awarded a penalty after appearing to be caught in the face by goalkeeper Peter Jehle, who then prevented the home side drawing level when he tipped over a powerful shot by Fletcher.
But Scotland hauled themselves level shortly after as Morrison laid off for Robson on the left wing and his cross was headed clear as far as Miller, who smashed in a superb left-foot volley off the bar.
Robson was then brought down just outside the box by Martin Rechsteiner, who was also booked, although Robson's free-kick proved wasteful.
Lee McCulloch then capped what had been a disappointing night so far when he picked up a yellow card with just five minutes remaining, which rules him out of next month's qualifier against Czech Republic in Prague.
Alan Hutton was then caught by two bad challenges as the game went into stoppage time, with Polverino also booked.And all the stoppages ultimately cost Liechtenstein as just when it appeared all Scotland hope was gone, McManus headed Robson's outswinging corner inside the far post and Hampden erupted in delight and relief.
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|3||Shots on Target||4|
|7||Shots off Target||2|