Football: Ibrox bows to talents of Laudrup

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Scotland 0 Denmark 1

BRIAN LAUDRUP, playing one of his final matches on the home turf of Ibrox before he leaves Rangers for Chelsea after the World Cup finals, condemned Scotland to defeat by Denmark last night with a goal which typified his high-class contribution to a low-key friendly.

Churlishly jeered by the crowd before and after scoring his 19th goal in 74 internationals shortly before half-time, Laudrup highlighted his potential to grace the global stage in France.

For a player who has suffered from chicken pox, tonsillitis, back and calf injuries of late, he also demonstrated what an asset he is likely to be at Stamford Bridge.

Given Scotland's mediocre record in non-competitive fixtures under his managership, and the fact that they were severely depleted, Craig Brown was not unduly perturbed by the outcome. He believes the Scots can be relied upon to perform with method and perhaps a little magic when the real thing starts in 11 week's time.

"The Danes had better technical ability than us, but they certainly weren't superior in terms of organisation,'' Brown said. "The game was confined to midfield and our keepers had no more to do than theirs."

He added: "You have to remember we were playing a team ranked third in the world, who had outstanding qualifying results. I don't want to make excuses, but they were at full strength apart from Peter Scheimchel whereas we were without Collins, Gallacher, Burley and Lambert."

Asked whether he felt the evening contained any pointers as to Scotland's prospects this summer, Brown said defiantly: "We confirmed that we will be very hard to beat, particularly against European opposition."

For an event which marked the start of the national side's sponsorship by Scottish Gas, the contest never quite ignited although there were several combustible moments. Scotland created only two openings, Darren Jackson sending a free header over the bar following Christian Dailly's cross midway through the first half and Stuart McCall underlining a lively cameo with a drive that was deflected wide in the closing minutes.

The interim period belonged to Brian Laudrup. He and his elder brother, Michael, had taken Scotland apart in a warm up match in Copenhagen before Euro 96, which doubtless explained why Brown deployed Colin Calderwood to track the Ajax player.

Calderwood stuck manfully to his task, even if he was fortunate to escape the wrath of a lenient English referee for one crude challenge on his quarry. Scotland, however, had far greater difficulty in stifling the life in Brian.

Laudrup Jnr's tendency to drift into deep positions before taking possession and running at the back three had already troubled the Scots before he scored in the 38th minute. The goal had its origins in Dailly's attempt to use the ball constructively when Brown felt the situation demanded a clearance into Row Z.

Michael Schjoenberg, another who benefited from the referee's tolerance, supplied the Rangers man, who beat Jim Leighton with characteristic aplomb from 18 yards.

Denmark, counter-attacking briskly as Scotland bravely strove to compensate for the absence of Gary McAllister, ought to have doubled their advantage in the closing minutes. Martin Jorgensen, confronted by the advancing Andy Goram, shot wide, leaving the margin respectable but the size of Brown's task in no doubt.

SCOTLAND (3-5-2): Leighton (Aberdeen); Elliott (Leicester), Hendry (Blackburn), Dailly (Derby); McNamara (Celtic), McKinlay (Blackburn), Calderwood (Tottenham), Gemmill (Nottingham Forest), Boyd (Celtic); Jackson (Celtic), Booth (Borussia Dortmund). Substitutes: Goram (Rangers gk) for Leighton, h-t; Jess (Aberdeen) for Booth h-t; Weir (Heart of Midlothian) for McNamara 60; McCall (Rangers) for Gemmill, 70; Whyte (Aberdeen), Donnelly (Celtic) for Jackson, 75).

DENMARK (3-4-1-2): Krogh (Brondby); Rieper (Celtic), Laursen (Derby), Schjoenberg (Kaiserslautern); Helveg (Udinese), Wieghorst (Celtic), Nielsen (Tottenham), Heintze (Bayer Leverkusen); M Laudrup (Ajax); Moeller (PSV Eindhoven), Brian Laudrup (Rangers). Substitutes: Henriksen (Akademisk Boldklub) for Maursen, h-t; Frandsen (Bolton) for Nielsen, 63; Jorgensen (Udinese) for Moller, 75; Goldbaek (FC Copenhagen) for B Laudrup, 80.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).