McManus's late header rescues Scottish pride
Scotland 2 Liechtenstein 1
Wednesday 08 September 2010
Stephen McManus's 97th-minute header rescued a victory for Scotland that keeps their qualification hopes for Euro 2012 alive after lowly Liechtenstein had taken a shock lead at Hampden Park last night.
The Middlesbrough defender rose highest at a corner deep into injury time to rescue Scotland from the ignominy of failing to record a home win against a nation of just 35,000 people.
Craig Levein's men had to come from behind after Mario Frick put the visitors in front straight after half-time. Rangers' striker Kenny Miller equalised midway through the second period, but the Scots knew that only a victory would be good enough, with games against the Czech Republic and world champions Spain still to come in Group I.
Levein recalled Kris Boyd and James McFadden as he looked for goals after Friday night's frustrating 0-0 draw in Lithuania.
The Tartan Army blotted their copybook before kick-off by roundly booing the national anthem of the visitors – which had the same tune as "God Save The Queen". There was more respect given to the minute's applause to honour the 25th anniversary of the passing of former Scotland manager Jock Stein.
Unsurprisingly, expectancy was in the air as the home support looked forward to the first three points of the qualifying campaign. Scotland dominated possession from the first whistle against a Liechtenstein side who looked consigned to an evening in front of their own 18-yard box. In the 10th minute, after Franz Burgmeier had earned a booking for a foul on Alan Hutton on the right-hand side, Lee McCulloch headed McFadden's free-kick over the bar from eight yards.
Boyd was unfortunate to be caught offside on a couple of occasions but there was a feeling that the opening goal was on its way. Liechtenstein, meanwhile, were showing almost nothing as an attacking force.
In the 24th minute, Miller did well down the right before swinging the ball over to the back post to find Boyd but his header went wide. Frustration slowly crept into proceedings as the Scots began to stutter. The half-time whistle was met with a chorus of boos from the Tartan Army.
Less than a minute after the restart Liechtenstein took a sensational lead. David Hasler crossed in from the left to skipper Frick who steered in a right-footed shot from 14 yards.
The equaliser arrived in the 63rd minute after the visitors began to tire. Substitute Barry Robson's cross from the left was only partially cleared to Miller who fired in a spectacular volley from 16 yards which crashed in off the bar.
From then on, the visitors were hanging on and Scotland went all out looking for the winner. Five minutes of added time came and went and it looked like it was going to be an embarrassment for the home side. However, in the seventh minute of injury time McManus rose to head home a Robson corner for a dramatic winner.
Scotland (4-4-2): McGregor (Rangers); Hutton (Tottenham), Weir (Rangers), McManus (Middlesbrough), Wallace (Heart of Midlothian); Brown (Celtic), D Fletcher (Manchester United), McCulloch (Rangers), McFadden (Birmingham); Boyd (Middlesbrough), Miller (Rangers). Substitutes used Morrison (West Bromwich) for McFadden, 46; Robson (Middlesbrough) for Wallace; Naismith (Rangers) for Boyd, 66.
Liechtenstein (4-4-2): Jehle; Oehri, Martin Stocklasa, Michael Stocklasa, Rechsteiner; Polverino, Wieser, Erne, Frick; Burgmeier, D Hasler. Substitutes used Buchel for Wieser; D'Elia for Frick, 78; N Hasler for D Hasler, 90.
Referee V Shvetsov (Ukraine).
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