Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scots Escape Humiliation; Boro Star Stephen McManus Gets Last-Gasp Winner

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scots Escape Humiliation; Boro Star Stephen McManus Gets Last-Gasp Winner

Article excerpt

Scotland 2 Liechtenstein 1 A DRAMATIC injury-time winner from Stephen McManus saved boss Craig Levein from a disastrous competitive home debut and prevented Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign taking a severe blow against Liechtenstein at Hampden tonight.

Levein had warned not to expect a goalfest against a team ranked 100 places below the Scots, but the home side only just managed to scrape the three points they desperately needed after claiming a point from their Group I opener in Lithuania on Friday.

Liechtenstein captain Mario Frick had more than just his 36th birthday to celebrate when he grabbed a shock opener - and his 15th international goal - for the visitors before Kenny Miller levelled for the shell-shocked Scots.

However, it was McManus who had the final say with the decisive goal seven minutes into injury time to steer the campaign back on track and prevent serious questions being asked of Levein.

James McFadden was also recalled after being named on the bench in Lithuania, while Lee Wallace was given the nod at left-back in place of the injured Steven Whittaker after proving his own fitness ahead of the match.

Levein had complained his players were not given enough protection from the referee in Kaunas - and it took match official just nine minutes to produce a yellow card for Franz Burgmeier's crunching challenge on Alan Hutton.

James McFadden presided over the resulting free-kick and supplied a lovely ball into the packed goalmouth, and Lee McCulloch rose above everyone else to connect with a firm header just over the crossbar. Scotland had dominated the opening spell and were threatening again when Darren Fletcher - earning his 50th cap - slipped a quick free-kick to the feet of Kris Boyd but he dragged well wide of target from distance, with an attempt on goal that was too ambitious.

The Middlesbrough forward had another chance when his former Rangers strike partner Miller did well to beat two players before delivering to the back post where Boyd was waiting to nod home - but Yves Oehri did enough to ensure the attempt was just off target.

With the match still deadlocked with the interval fast approaching, the visitors attempted to claim a shock opener when Sandro Weiser and Michele Polverino exchanged a one-two before Weiser's effort was smothered by Allan McGregor in the Scotland goal. …

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