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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK
Scotland's dream alive and kicking
By Liam McLeod

The Scots celebrate
O'Connor and Maloney are rightly the centre of attention
The collective sigh of relief could be heard from Golspie to Girvan as Scotland left Toftir with the three points safely in the 'group of death' bank.

Sure, it wasn't very pretty but this wasn't a Miss Scotland contest - this was more like Ghostbusters.

For David Weir, Graham Alexander, Barry Ferguson and Christian Dailly, this must have been a bit like a football version of the Exorcist, almost five years on from THAT day.

The scene of Scottish football nightmares has now been conquered for the first time in three visits and watching the first half, you would have been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about.

It took 30 minutes to get the 'not again' moments out of the system as Garry O'Connor smacked the post and Kris Boyd ballooned over a chance you would have stuck your house on him putting away.

So, were we going to have one of those days in this now most infamous of outposts? No chance.

Shaun Maloney had been given the backing by his national coach on the morning of the match as he made his first competitive start for his country.

This was justified in spectacular style as he left Jakup Mikkelsen in the Faroese goal rooted to the spot with a free kick to open his Scotland account.

It was a moment that meant we could sit a little more comfortably than we had been.

Just four minutes later, O'Connor - for the second time in a week - proved that Alex McLeish was spot on bringing the Locomotiv Moscow striker back into the fold.

He reacted first to a Mikkelsen save that he drew in the first place to slot home, much to the glee of the Tartan Army behind the goal.

The Tartan Army
The Tartan Army enjoy a rare day of Faroese sunshine

Now it was as close to a stroll as you can get in international football these days.

The second-half followed a different kind of pattern as the Scots sat deeper and deeper till they were so deep they nearly ended up swimming in the Atlantic.

That gave the Faroes the incentive they needed to be more adventurous than they had been.

They hit the woodwork twice, but this was a match Scotland were not going to surrender.

McLeish had stated a few months back that this was a daft time to be playing such an important fixture.

And as some of his players showed in Toftir, this was probably as far as their season long fuel was going to take them.

Paul Hartley for example, was playing his 47th match in 10 months.

Reports may suggest the Scots were fortunate following the second-half performance, but at the end of the day it's job done, and that's all that matters.

Toftir
The Scots will not be sad to see the back of Toftir

The sun was indeed smiling down on the Scots, which is no mean feat considering you get an average of 300 days of rain in the Faroe Islands.

Had we gone into the break at 0-0 we could easily have been looking down the barrel again - but we didn't.

The two efforts that struck Craig Gordon's woodwork in the second half may - on another day - have dropped in. Not this time.

This Scotland side is a very different animal to the 2002 model when the pinstripes and big collars were shocked and stunned as a bewildered wee German looked on.

The Scots will only hit the precipice of Euro 2008 qualifying Group B again for a matter of hours.

But the important fact of the day was that when they hit the precipice of Europe, they left with their dreams intact.

Hopefully, the dream can be prolonged right through to when the Italians visit Glasgow in November.

An electric Hampden Park, snarling, roaring and knowing victory would grant the Scots a place in the finals is a mouthwatering prospect - unless you are Italian.

Still, one game at a time and it's Lithuania at Hampden in September next and another must-win.

The adventure continues. Enjoy your holidays lads.

SEE ALSO
Faroe Islands 0-2 Scotland
06 Jun 07 |  Internationals


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