Scotland slip up in the snow

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The Independent Online

Hungary Under-21 2 Scotland Under-21 1

Scotland conceded a crucial late goal as they lost the first leg of their European Under-21 Championship quarter-final in a Budapest blizzard yesterday.

The Hungarian substitute, Gabor Zavadszky, delighted the partisan crowd of 15,000 in Ferencvaros' stadium by drilling home an 80th-minute strike to give his side the advantage for the return match. But at least Scotland, who had the Hearts defender, Paul Ritchie, sent off after only 13 minutes of his debut at this level, scored an away goal which keeps them in contention for the second leg at Easter Road, Edinburgh, on 26 March.

It was surprising the match ever went ahead as the pitch, which was covered in snow, looked unplayable. Scotland must have wished it had been called off when they found themselves a goal down and reduced to 10 men before the opening quarter hour had elapsed.

Ritchie had been given all sorts of problems by the speedy winger, Tibor Dombi, in the early stages, being booked after 12 minutes for a foul on his opponent. When he brought Dombi down again 60 seconds later, this time in the area, Ritchie was given his marching orders before Karoly Szanyo sent the resulting penalty past the goalkeeper Derek Stillie to give the home side the lead.

However, Scotland equalised after 35 minutes when the promising Aberdeen left-back, Stephen Glass, burst into space to rifle a glorious first-time shot past Hungary's goalkeeper, Lajos Szucs, after Simon Donnelly had flicked on Steven Pressley's high ball.

Scotland did their best to play a passing game on the dreadful surface as the treacherous conditions worsened and could have gone in at half- time ahead if Donnelly had converted a golden chance. In the second half, Scotland mostly managed to quell Hungary's attacking threat until the 80th minute, when Jozsef Sebok's cross found Szanyo in the penalty area, and he cut the ball back for Zavadsky to rifle in a shot from eight yards.

HUNGARY UNDER-21: Szucs; Lendvai, Hrutkia, Sebok, Peto, Szatmari (Zavadszky, h-t), Dombi (Dardai, 33), Lisztes, Sandor (Preisinger, 75), Szanyo, Egressy.

SCOTLAND UNDER-21: Stillie (Aberdeen); McNamara (Celtic), Glass (Aberdeen), Ritchie (Hearts), Pressley (Dundee Utd), Dailly (Dundee Utd), Donnelly (Celtic), Locke (Hearts), Crawford (Raith Rovers), Liddell (Barnsley), Murray (Rangers). Substitute: Fullarton (St Mirren) for Crawford, 50.

Referee: R Wojcik (Poland).

n Mick McCarthy will stick with the old guard when he names his first Republic of Ireland squad in Dublin today for the friendly with Russia at Lansdowne Road on 27 March. McCarthy, a former Republic captain, knows he must eventually inject new blood into an ageing squad which was showing signs of decline during the closing stages of Jack Charlton's 10-year reign. But the former Millwall manager has pledged to surround himself, at least in the short term, with the experience of veterans like the 80- cap international record-holder, Paul McGrath, the 37-year-old top-scorer, John Aldridge, and the stalwart midfielder, Ray Houghton, who were all members of the team Charlton steered to the finals of two World Cups and one European Championship.