Football Euro 2000: Scotland line up their long shot at immortality

WHEN SMALL boys in Scotland imagine scoring the winner against England, it is said that the backdrop is invariably the Twin Towers rather than Hampden Park. The Scots have not mustered a goal on the Auld Enemy's turf since 1981, or indeed anywhere in their last five meetings. Tonight, however, Craig Brown will look to the Wembley effect to inspire the overwhelming underdogs in their long shot at immortality.

Brown will continue to trust primarily in tactical planning and disciplined teamwork to conjure a comeback which would prove that Lazarus was a Scotsman. Yet the gravity of Scotland's situation is such that even their endlessly pragmatic manager would welcome a modicum of magic, outrageous good luck or divine intervention.

Wembley itself may just help nudge the balance back Scotland's way. Brown has witnessed from the terraces the galvanising impact this ostensibly shabby stadium can exert on his country's players and fans. He also points optimistically to the pressure a home crowd tends to put on its team to press forward, leaving gaps to exploit. And, in a spot of psychological warfare, he reiterated yesterday his belief that certain members of Kevin Keegan's team struggle at the so-called Venue of Legends.

Speaking en route to the Scottish squad's base near St Alban's, Brown noted that Tony Adams and Martin Keown did not find Wembley's "wide open spaces" to their liking when faced with sharp, mobile opponents in Arsenal's Champions' League "home" fixtures.

Clutching at straws? After 48 hours of Caledonian doom to test the gloomiest Calvinist, this was tantamount to fighting talk. Brown also claimed, contrary to popular opinion, that Scotland did enough on Saturday to prove all is not lost - provided they could score first.

That is where theory and reality collide like Don Hutchison crunching into Paul Scholes. The Scots have no natural finisher to compare with Shearer, Owen, Cole or Phillips, let alone Scholes. They must also find width and ways of getting behind the defence which were not evident at Hampden, where England were content to let them play in front of them.

Kevin Gallacher's suspension could be a blessing in disguise, forcing Brown to go for a pacier, if less canny, striker. Although both Mark Burchill and Gary McSwegan fit the bill, and Hutchison's height would be useful, Neil McCann's natural talent for pulling wide and isolating a defender makes him the likeliest partner for Billy Dodds.

Scotland's predicament means they will probably need all of them at some stage. They have to score three in London for the first time since Jim Baxter's game in 1967. Even if they matched the striking feats orchestrated by the artist formerly known as Slim Jim, they would also have to stop Keegan's men scoring; Catch 99, you could say. The last time they left Wembley with a result that would suffice was in 1949, by 3-1.

Brown takes heart from the more recent past, notably the fact that Scotland have yet to lose twice in a row in his reign, which completes its sixth year tonight. The last two times they were badly wounded, by Costa Rica under Andy Roxburgh and against England during Euro 96, they responded within days with rousing victories over Sweden and Switzerland respectively.

The regularity with which they find the net on their travels, against higher-ranked nations than England at that, also encourages Brown. But, in truth, Scotland managed but a single goal away to the might of the Faroe Islands this year and none in Lithuania and Estonia.

England have not lost by three at Wembley since Hungary's 6-3 romp in 1953. Summoning all the aforementioned powers of the imagination, only a tartan super-optimist will picture the admirable Dodds, despite his pedigree with the Maryhill Magyars (aka Partick Thistle), spearheading a spree to emulate the original version.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London