Scottish goalkeeper untroubled in easiest World Cup victory

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The Independent Online
Brian Clough once said that "It only takes a second to score a goal" and yesterday the Scottish national side proved him right by winning without breaking sweat. The result against Estonia was achieved not by skill, guile or heart, not by giving 110 per cent and certainly not by outplaying the opposition. Because there wasn't any.

The win, only the second of its kind in a World Cup qualifier, was achieved because the Estonians failed to turn up. At three seconds past three Estonian time, with the song "One team in Tallinn, there's only one team in Tallinn . . ." ringing in their ears, the Scottish side walked off the pitch apparently with three points in the bag. Jean-Marie Gantenbein of Luxembourg, the match delegate from the world football governing body, Fifa, initially indicated that Scotland should be awarded the match.

At the same time, 60 miles away, the Estonian national side was embroiled in a dispute with Fifa, over kick-off times and television rights. The farce began on Tuesday, when Scotland lodged an official complaint about the standard of floodlighting at the Kadriorg national stadium.

Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, felt it was not good enough to cope with the planned 6.45pm local time kick-off (4.45pm BST). Overnight, Fifa agreed and the kick-off was brought forward to 3pm after more protests by the Scots. By 1.30pm, however, the Estonians had not turned up. Officials who did told the referee, Miroslav Radoman, that the team was still at the training camp, eating a pre-match meal.

Knowing the Estonians did not plan to make the 3pm kick-off, the Scots put on their kit and took to the pitch in a pre-match warm-up in front of their 1,000 travelling fans. At the allotted time, Billy Dodds of Aberdeen touched the ball to John Collins of Monaco and three seconds later Mr Radoman blew his whistle, abandoning the game.

There was speculation last night that the Estonian no-show may have had something to do with pounds 50,000 in lost television rights. BBC Scotland was understood to have offered the fee for coverage of the match at its 6.45pm slot.

However, when it was brought forward, it coincided with the BBC's coverage of a memorial service for the victims of the Dunblane massacre, meaning the football coverage was abandoned.

Mr Brown said that the fiasco had "left a bad taste in the mouth". He added: "We have not been told yet by the Fifa delegates if we get the points." Fifa said that no decision had been made and that reports from the referee and Mr Gantenbein, as well as a protest from the Estonian authorities, would be considered by the World Cup organising committee on 7 November.

The Estonian manager, Teitur Thordarsson, an Icelander, said he felt terrible: "It was too late for us to change the time when we were told. We were looking forward to playing Scotland; we were ready for the match and the players were fit."

The match that wasn't, Page 31

England defeated Poland 2-1 in their World Cup qualifying match at Wembley last night. Alan Shearer scored both England goals. Report, page 32