Football / European Championship: Collins shows the way for labouring Scotland: Early goals prove to be decisive in European qualifiers

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Faroe Islands. . . . . . . . . . .1

SCOTLAND maintained their 100 per cent start in the European Championship qualifying campaign with a comfortable if inconclusive victory over the Faroe Islands, one of the two Group Eight no-hopers, at a half-empty stadium last night.

Craig Brown's side, for whom John Collins scored twice, thus emulated Greece's margin against the North Atlantic amateurs, yet will need to make better use of less possession when Russia visit Glasgow next month.

The Greeks rout of Finland in Salonika may, in Brown's opinion, have effectively eliminated the losers. 'It's looking like two from three,' the Scotland manager said after a win that was never a walkover.

The Faroes may be a craggy outcrop with twice as many sheep as people, but their half of the pitch was densely populated throughout. Scotland deployed their full-backs as wide midfielders and used Pat Nevin in a more advanced role. The ploy reaped a rapid dividend.

Only four minutes had elapsed when Paul McStay, working a quick free-kick with Nevin, crossed from the right. The ball was met at the far post by John McGinlay, who scored from a free header.

The goal was greeted by more of a Hampden falsetto than a roar, and the raucous knot of Faroese fans almost had an equaliser to celebrate in the seventh minute. Todi Jonsson raced clear, only for his shot to be touched behind by Andy Goram.

The Scots laboured until the 33rd minute before scoring again, with Nevin once more involved. After a short- corner routine with Tom Boyd, he drove in a centre to which Scott Booth's forehead applied the decisive touch.

Jens Knudsen, who has forsaken his famous tea cosy hat in order to look more professional, had no chance with Scotland's third, five minutes before half-time. A deft header by McGinlay found Collins, who drove the ball in from 18 yards.

The pattern was of steady Scottish pressure, and though the Faroes were never under siege, their goal fell again just before the hour. Billy McKinlay, who had replaced Colin Hendry moments earlier, unleashed a 25-yard shot which again left Knudsen clawing air.

Following the departure of Hendry, McStay switched from playmaker to sweeper, which seemed a curiously negative change, yet Scotland took their tally to five in the 72nd minute when Collins hooked home his second and seventh in 20 internationals.

Three minutes later the visitors snatched a goal to send their supporters wild with delight, Muller surging through in the inside-right channel before angling his shot beyond Goram from 15 yards.

SCOTLAND (3-4-3): Goram (Rangers); McLaren (Hearts), Levein (Hearts), Hendry (Blackburn); McKimmie (Aberdeen), McStay (Celtic), Collins (Celtic), Boyd (Celtic); Nevin (Tranmere), McGinlay (Bolton), Booth (Aberdeen). Substitutes: McKinlay (Dundee Utd) for Hendry, 59; Walker (Celtic) for Booth, 70.

FAROE ISLANDS (3-5-2): Knudsen (GI Gota); Johannesen (TB Tvoroyri), T Hansen (B36 Torshavn), J Hansen (Randers Freja); H Jarnskor (GI Gota), Dam (HB Torshavn), Morkore (KI Klakksvik), M Jarnskor (GI Gota), O Hansen (Vejle); Jonsson (Lyngby), Muller (AC Horsens). Substitutes: Joensen (NSL Runavik) for Dam, 54; Janus Rasmussen (GI Gota) for Morkore, 74.

Referee: T Hauge (Norway).