Football: Riedle riddle baffles brave Scots

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SCOTLAND'S makeshift team came tantalisingly close to an honourable draw against the world champions in last night's friendly at Ibrox. Germany, defending an early goal by Karlheinz Reidle, were fortunate to withstand intense pressure in the final minute.

While the outcome may have been predictable, given the problems which deprived Andy Roxburgh of virtually his entire first-choice team, neither the Scotland coach nor the home fans in the 36,400 crowd went home disheartened.

The contest may have been devalued in terms of Scotland's build-up to next month's World Cup qualifier against Portugal, but Roxburgh drew encouragement from the displays of several fringe candidates for a place in his Lisbon squad.

For the paying customers, the performance of the 6ft 4in Duncan Ferguson, a lavishly gifted centre-forward for whom Dundee United have turned down pounds 2.5m from Rangers, stole the show.

The match was effectively won and lost in the space of two minutes during the first half. As Tom Boyd's cross descended into the German area, Ferguson launched into a spectacular bicycle kick from eight yards, but Andreas Kopke, showing equal agility, twisted acrobatically to turn the ball over.

From the corner, Brian Irvine's header cleared the woodwork, and almost immediately Germany snatched the winner. Guido Buchwald's up-and-under appeared to offer Craig Levein a simple header back to his goalkeeper, Nicky Walker, but the captain inexplicably missed the ball. Riedle pounced to score with a low shot from 16 yards.

The Lazio striker netted from similar range when the nations last met, at the European Championship finals in Sweden. As on that occasion, Scotland dominated territorially, although Germany again proved their ability to make the most of fewer openings.

Having scored from their only effort on target in the first half, they seldom looked like doubling their advantage. A goalbound header by Buchwald was cleared off the line by John Collins soon after the interval, while Jurgen Klinsmann belatedly brought Walker into the action with two long-range shots.

Otherwise, the pattern was of Scottish ascendancy. John Robertson saw a header brilliantly saved by Kopke and sent a rising drive narrowly over. Almost at the death, Collins miscued a clear chance, and Scott Booth nearly marked his debut with a headed equaliser.

SCOTLAND: Walker (Heart of Midlothian); Wright (Aberdeen), Boyd (Celtic), Levein (Hearts), Irvine (Aberdeen), McLaren (Hearts), Robertson (Hearts), Bowman (Dundee United), Ferguson (Dundee United), Collins (Celtic), McInally (Dundee United). Substitutes: Booth (Aberdeen) for Wright, 63.

GERMANY: Kopke (Nuremburg); Zorc (Borussia Dortmund), Helmer (Bayern Munich), Kahler (Juventus), Thon (Bayern Munich), Buchwald (VfG Stuttgart), Klinsmann (Monaco), Hassler (Roma), Riedle (Lazio), Matthaus (Bayern Munich, capt), Doll (Lazio). Substitutes: Effenberg (Fiorentina) for Doll, 60; Sammer (Borussia Dortmund) for Matthaus, 88.

Referee: L Schelings (Belgium).