Scotland prosper in the gloom

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The Independent Football

Scotland began their European Under-21 Championship qualification campaign with a 3-1 victory in the gloom of Latvia last night.

Scotland began their European Under-21 Championship qualification campaign with a 3-1 victory in the gloom of Latvia last night.

The decrepit Daugava stadium in Riga suffered a floodlight failure during the match but it did not dim the Scots' sense of purpose after going a goal down. Vladimir Kolesnichenko opened the scoring in the 17th minute after the Nottingham Forest centre-back Chris Doig had lost possession, but a long-range strike from Bournemouth's Richard Hughes levelled the score in the 25th minute.

Celtic's Mark Burchill gave Scotland the lead just before the hour mark, direct from a free-kick, and the substitute Craig Easton, from Dundee United, wrapped things up with three minutes to go.

Gary Hamilton rescued Northern Ireland's Under-21 side with the equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Malta in Coleraine. Michael Galea scored a breakaway goal to put the visitors ahead but the Blackburn striker, who is currently on loan at Rochdale, curled in a fine shot in the 61st minute.

An outclassed Welsh Under-21 side went down 4-1 to Belarus in Borisov. The Cardiff City striker Robert Earnshaw scored the consolation goal.

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