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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Scotland 0-1 Belarus
A dejected Kenny Miller
Scotland's late charge for a World Cup play-off place came to a shuddering halt after an embarrassing defeat to Belarus at Hampden Park.

The visitors scored early when the ball broke for Vitaly Kutuzov and the striker found the bottom corner.

Scotland briefly rallied in the second half, with Kenny Miller shooting over the top from a great position and Shaun Maloney going close.

But the World Cup exit was confirmed when Norway won later on Saturday.

They beat Moldova 1-0, to officially eliminate the Scots.

Belarus, ranked three places above Scotland at 71 in the world standings, were worthy winners, having created the best chances.

And Scotland floundered for long spells, lacking the guile to break down their opponents.

The Scots have not reached a major championship since the 1998 World Cup and sit second bottom of the section with one match - away to Slovenia - remaining.

Inside the first minute Miller burst into the Belarus penalty box but his shot from a very tight angle was blocked by goalkeeper Vasily Khomutovsky.

However, the early vocal enthusiasm from the crowd soon turned to stunned silence as Belarus went ahead on six minutes.

The ball broke cruelly off Darren Fletcher and Christian Dailly into the path of Kutuzov and he slotted the ball past Craig Gordon.

The visitors were much more comfortable on the ball and Arsenal's Alexsander Hleb was running the show in midfield.

Kutuzov was given another sight at goal when Hleb sliced open the Scotland defence but the Sampdoria striker sent his curling shot wide from a very promising position.

And there was a real scare on the half hour when Kutuzov's 12-yard shot cannoned off the crossbar after Scotland failed to clear a corner.

Scotland were lucky not to concede more goals at Hampden
Paul Hartley was not his influential self

Celtic's Maloney was introduced at half-time and the youngster ran on to a headed flick-on from Lee McCulloch only for the ball to get caught under his feet allowing the Belarus defence to crowd him out near the penalty spot.

Maloney went agonisingly close soon after when his awkward overhead kick from close range was blocked by McCulloch, who lay prone on the goal-line.

Miller then squandered a glorious chance when he broke clear of the Belarus defence but shot wildly over the crossbar from 12 yards with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Khomutovsky was at full-stretch to push away a curling free-kick from Maloney and no Scotland player could reach the loose ball.

Belarus regained their composure after surviving Scotland's good spell of pressure and Kutuzov passed up chances on the break before Vitaly Bulyga hit the post with the goal at his mercy.

The final ten minutes saw Scotland piling bodies forward but the ball would not fall the way of the home side.

Miller almost snatched a goal in the dying minutes but Khomutovsky did well to advance and block the striker's effort.

Scotland: Gordon, Alexander, Pressley, Weir, Murray, Fletcher, Ferguson, Dailly, Hartley, Miller, McCulloch. Subs: Esson, Gary Caldwell, Webster, McCann, Quashie, Maloney, O'Connor.

Belarus: Khomutovsky, Kulchy, Korytsko, Ostrovsky, Tarlovsky, Kovba, Bulyga, Lavrik, Hleb, Kalachev, Kutuzov. Subs: Zhevnov, Oleg Shkabara, Oleg Shkabara, Cheljadinskij, Kirilchik, Sascheko, Loshankov, Kovel.

Referee: Zsolt Szabo (Hungary)

Interview: Scotland skipper Barry Ferguson

Interview: Scotland boss Walter Smith


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