Sunday, 9 October 2011

Almost There?

European Championships, Qualifying Group I: Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz; Liechtenstein 0, Scotland 1

Scotland’s unnecessarily hard fought win in Vaduz has, coupled with the Czech Republic’s 2-0 loss on Friday night to Spain, seen them creep past the Czech Republic into second place.  All Scotland need to do to keep a hold on the play off place is to get a better result in Spain than the Czech Republic gain in Lithuania.  Easy!

The win was unnecessarily hard fought because Scotland really should have been home and hosed by half time, with Naismith missing three chances.  Naismith’s first chance came on 11 minutes when he headed an Adam free kick wide.  Ten minutes later, Naismith headed a cross weakly into the ground, which fell into the hands of the Liechtenstein goalkeeper, four minutes after that Naismith rounded the goalkeeper but put into the side netting.  Just past the half hour, Scotland got the goal they deserved.  Bardsley put a high hanging cross into the box and Craig Mackail Smith (above) put a looping header past keeper Jehle.  It was the first time in the game that the forward actually got on the end of a cross, or was supplied with service.

The second half pretty much followed the same pattern, Scotland retaining possession and probing, with Liechtenstein content to put 10 men behind the ball.  Both Naismith & Berra had chances at the end, but both were kept out by good saves by Jehle.  Don’t know about you, but a 1-0 win felt like a below par score and not really representative of Scotland’s dominance – but completely representative of chances created.

Scotland’s last date in this Euro 2012 campaign is of course that game in Alicante on Tuesday, with the Czech Republic’s tie in Lithuania taking place simultaneously.  In short a very difficult task awaits against the World Champions and defending European Champions, knowing Scotland we’ll either win 1-0 or lose 4-0.

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