Football: Gough off as Scots subside: Swiss run over Roxburgh's men

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Switzerland. . .3

Scotland . . . .1

SCOTLAND'S American dream got off to a nightmare start here last night. Not only did they lose to a Switzerland side who might have settled for a draw beforehand, but they also had Richard Gough sent off for deliberate handball shortly after the third Swiss goal eight minutes from time.

As their captain trudged off, leaving behind him disarray which had not appeared possible midway through the second half when the score was deadlocked at 1-1, the 1994 World Cup finals suddenly seemed a long way off. Fortunately for Scotland, they now have three successive home fixtures, against Portugal, Italy and Malta. Unfortunately, they will be without the suspended Gough for the first of those.

Adrian Knup, a striker with Stuttgart, did most to puncture the optimism Scotland brought from their efforts during the European Championships in Sweden. Knup scored twice - his first goal coming after only 68 seconds - to take his tally to four in two Group One games. Leeds United, who will encounter him in the German champions' colours next week, must hope that forewarned is forearmed.

Ally McCoist swiftly equalised Knup's opening blow, and the Scots looked to be on course for a satisfactory draw as the match drifted into a stalemate. Poor defending then let in Knup again and with the previously subdued Berne crowd at last finding their voice, Georges Bregy put the issue beyond doubt.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Darren Ferguson had become the first Scotland player to be ordered off during Andy Roxburgh's six years as national coach in the Under-21's defeat at Sursee. The similarities did not stop there: just as the young Swiss had scored from their first corner, so did their seniors. Gough sliced a centre behind, and from Alain Sutter's flag-kick Knup rose above a clutch of static defenders to glance home a sharp downward header.

Stephane Chapuisat, the other German-based forward available to Switzerland's new English-born coach, Roy Hodgson, saw his sixth-minute shot blocked by the legs of Andy Goram. But Scotland gradually recovered their composure and deservedly drew level.

Stuart McCall sent Gordon Durie scampering down the right, where the Spurs man burned off Ivan Quentin before drilling a low cross into the six-yard box. McCoist, hurtling in, finished ruthlessly - his 13th international goal and 13th of the season arriving, with pleasing symmetry, in the 13th minute.

Unlucky for Switzerland, certainly, and their early confidence had all but drained away by the time Roxburgh sent on an attacking midfielder, Ian Durrant, before the hour. Although the 26-year-old's rehabilitation meant there were now six Rangers players on the pitch, Scotland's cohesion did not conspicuously improve.

Even so, it was a surprise when Switzerland regained the lead. With 17 minutes remaining, Alain Sutter skipped past Tom Boyd on the Scottish right, his centre giving Knup a second free header. In the 82nd minute, Scotland conceded a disputed free-kick 30 yards out, from which Bregy's speculative shot ripped past Goram.

Gough, catching a through pass after misjudging its flight, then became the first Scot to be sent off in a full international since Willie Johnston in 1977. As campaign openings go, it was in the George Bush class with only the assured return of Durrant, their own 'Comeback Kid', to lighten the gloom. However, as Roxburgh pointed out, his team lost twice away during their last World Cup qualifying series, and still reached Italy.

SWITZERLAND: Pascolo (Servette Geneva); Hottiger (Sion), Quentin (Sion), Egli (Servette, capt), Geiger (Sion), Bregy (Young Boys Berne), A Sutter (Grasshoppers Zurich), Ohrel (Servette), Knup (VfB Stuttgart), Sforza (Grasshoppers Zurich), Chapuisat (Borussia Dortmund). Substitutes: B Sutter (Xamax Neuchatel) for Knup, 87; Piffareti (Sion) for Bregy, 89.

SCOTLAND: Goram (Rangers); Gough (Rangers, capt), Malpas (Dundee United), McCall (Rangers), Boyd (Celtic), McPherson (Rangers), Durie (Tottenham), McAllister (Leeds), McCoist (Rangers), McStay (Celtic), McClair (Manchester United). Substitutes: Durrant (Rangers) for McClair, 67; Gallacher (Coventry) for Boyd, 74.

Referee: M Van der Ende (Netherlands).