THE LIGHTS went out on Scotland's World Cup aspiratons in the Stadium of Light last night, their visions of qualifying for a sixth successive finals blurred by two first-half goals and then eclipsed by a burst of three in five minutes midway through the second period as Portugal, and the local Benfica hero Paulo Futre in particular, ran riot.
Not only was it the heaviest reverse of Andy Roxburgh's seven-year reign, but also the worst suffered by any Scotland side since England beat them 5-1 at Wembley in 1975. This time, due to the linesman's error which ruled out Kevin Gallacher's effort when the Portuguese led 1-0, there was not even a consolation goal for the 2,500 Scottish supporters.
To compound the tartan trauma, Scotland finished the match with 10 men after Ally McCoist was carried off with a shin injury, inflicted in a rugged challenge by Oceano, which required a precautionary X-ray on the squad's return to Edinburgh in the early hours. It was merely a case of adding injury to insult.
The game was up long before then. The hosts already led 2-0 when Craig Levein, who had done a reasonable job of man-marking Futre, limped out of the fray on the hour. The floodgates promptly opened and Scotland were simply swept away, with Portuguese players queueing up to miss embarrassingly easy chances in the final minutes.
Even when Rui Barros scored in the fifth minute, beating Andy Goram on his near post after Paulo Sousa had breached the offside trap, there were few signs of the humiliation in store. Indeed, Gallacher was wrongly denied an equaliser in the 27th minute, when he deceived the linesman with the timing of his run on to Paul McStay's pass.
Portugal doubled their lead in first- half injury time through Jorge Cadete, who plays for Bobby Robson's Sporting Lisbon. In the wake of Levein's exit, McCoist saw a glancing header acrobatically saved by Vitor Baia and very soon it was all over, including the shouting.
Futre, revelling in his new-found freedom, made it 3-0 after Paulo Sousa's drive came back off a post in the 67th minute; two minutes later, Richard Gough cleared his shot off the line and Rui Barros followed up to claim his second; before Goram and his defenders could recover, Futre crossed for Cadete to double his tally. 'From the word go,' a 'shell-shocked' Roxburgh admitted, 'it was a disastrous situation which defies description. I don't feel any pain, just a numbness.'
PORTUGAL: Vitor Baia (Porto); Abel Xavier (Estrela da Amadora), Jorge Costa (Porto), Rui Costa (Benfica), Fernando Couto (Porto), Oceano (Real Sociedad), Rui Barros (Monaco), Paulo Sousa (Benfica), Semedo (Porto), Futre (Benfica, capt), Cadete (Sporting). Substitutes: Veloso (Benfica) for Rui Costa, 65; Domingos (Porto) for Cadete, 82.
SCOTLAND: Goram (Rangers); Gough (Rangers, capt), McInally (Dundee Utd), McPherson (Rangers), McKimmie (Aberdeen), Levein (Heart of Midlothian), McStay (Celtic), McCall (Rangers), McCoist (Rangers), Collins (Celtic), Gallacher (Blackburn Rovers). Substitutes: Nevin (Tranmere Rovers) for Levein, 59; Durrant (Rangers) for Collins, 75.
Referee: S Puhl (Hungary).Reuse content