Hungry visitors spoil Burns night party

Scotland 1 - Sweden 4
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The Independent Football

Burns' Night ended up more of a dog's dinner than a haggis supper as Sweden, given a two-goal start by Marcus Allback, recorded a comprehensive victory in the Edinburgh friendly that is likely to prove Tommy Burns' first and last match as manager of Scotland.

Burns' Night ended up more of a dog's dinner than a haggis supper as Sweden, given a two-goal start by Marcus Allback, recorded a comprehensive victory in the Edinburgh friendly that is likely to prove Tommy Burns' first and last match as manager of Scotland.

Allback, the former Aston Villa player, has now scored 23 times for his country, more than the entire squad at Burns' disposal. Johan Elmander and Fredrik Berglund made it 4-0 in a late Swedish flurry before James McFadden's penalty put the Scots on the scoresheet.

The crowd vented their displeasure with chants of "Sack the board" and by calling for the head of David Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish FA. They sang the name of Gordon Strachan, although the SFA plan to discuss the vacancy created by Berti Vogts' departure with Walter Smith, the former Rangers and Everton manager, before the week is out.

Even the briefest reign for a Scotland manager would be incomplete without the last-minute withdrawal of a key player. Burns had been forced to send Darren Fletcher back to Manchester United because of an injury sustained in training, which created an opening for Barry Nicholson to return after being overlooked by Vogts.

Burns, who was the German's assistant, had pledged to restore spirit and organisation. There was no shortage of commitment, with Nigel Quashie conspicuously striving to inspire his colleagues and drawing a positive early response from Scotland's attacking spearhead, Kenny Miller.

In contrast with his predecessor, Burns used players in the roles to which they are accustomed. Jackie McNamara, captain for the first time, operated in front of a back four that featured another player discarded by Vogts, Kevin McNaughton. The Aberdeen man drove forward vigorously but was exposed for pace as Sweden took a 26th-minute lead.

Scotland had already endured one escape, Nicholson heading off the line to prevent Russell Anderson scoring an own goal, when Christian Wilhelmsson took on McNaughton down the left. Reaching the byline, the winger cut the ball back to Allback, who had positioned himself near the penalty spot and scored with a deft right-footed shot.

The disappointment was all the more acute because Scotland had opened brightly. Miller, cutting in from the right, brought a flying save from Magnus Hedman, one of two Celtic keepers on view. The second half was barely four minutes old when Sweden's growing assurance, founded on their superior movement and touch play, produced a second goal. Niclas Alexandersson released Kim Kallstrom, whose curling cross was converted by Allback at the back post.

Scotland had at least been competitive to that point, and might have halved the arrears had Nicholson not shot weakly when played in by McFadden. But the substitutions made by Burns seemed to affect the balance of his side more than the changes by Lars Lagerback for Sweden, and two goals in three minutes saw the visitors double their lead.

In the 73rd minute, Wilhelmsson set up Alexandersson for a shot which Marshall parried. Elmander turned the loose ball into the unguarded net. Scotland were still struggling to regroup when Wilhelmson's cut-back enabled Berglund to sidefoot the fourth goal.

Scotland supporters were heading for the exits before the referee pointed to the spot after Mikael Dorsin's challenge on McFadden with 12 minutes left. The swagger with which the Everton attacker scored was a rare reminder of what the Scots once took for granted with their national team.

SCOTLAND: Marshall; McNaughton, Murray, Anderson, Webster, McNamara, Nicholson, Quashie, Miller, McFadden, Pearson. Substitutes: Gordon, Severin, Crawford, Hughes, Hammell, Pressley, Combe.

SWEDEN: Hedman; Nilsson, Mellberg, Lucic, Dorsin, Andersson, Alexandersson, Kallstrom, Wilhelmsson, Allback, Berglund. Substitutes: Isaksson, Antonsson, Hansson, Ostlund, Johansson, Linderoth, Touma, Elmander.

Referee: J Jara (Czech Republic).

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