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Scotland 1-1 Croatia

By Colin Moffat

Kenny Miller was on target for Scotland
Miller was rewarded for his industry with a goal at Hampden

George Burley's reign as Scotland manager started with a creditable draw at home to a talented Croatia side.

Niko Kranjcar shot the visitors into an early lead but a Kenny Miller strike from an acute angle restored parity, with the help of a deflection.

Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon was deceived by the opening goal but made up for it with a number of good saves.

Miller had a header cleared from the goal-line and Kris Boyd had a late shot pushed away by Stipe Pletikosa.

The draw leaves Scotland without a friendly win at Hampden since March 1996 but there were several positives for the new manager.

Miller was once again impressive in the lone striker role, while Alan Hutton was a stand-out at right-back and Gordon was assured on a horrible, wet night.

Paul Hartley also did well in a defensive midfield role to help break up some of the slick passing moves from Croatia.

Scotland were behind after 10 minutes when Kranjcar picked the ball up on the edge of the penalty and belted home a swerving shot which left Gordon utterly bewildered.

Croatia were enjoying long spells of possession, languidly stroking the ball around midfield only to suddenly spring quicksilver attacks that had the Scottish defence stretched.

However, the home team hung in doggedly and were on level terms after half an hour.

A Robert Kovac slip allowed Miller to latch on to Steven Fletcher's long ball and shoot home from a tight angle via a heavy deflection off Josip Simunic.

Kranjcar tried his luck with another strike but Gordon got down smartly to gather a skidding, long-range effort from the Portsmouth midfielder.

Scotland manager George Burley
Burley was happy with the way his side fought back

Gordon again showed good handling skills to field a curling free kick from Darijo Srna.

Gavin Rae, a late call-up to Burley's depleted squad, replaced Steven Fletcher at the start of the second half and immediately caused a scare in front of his own goal, with the ball eventually ricocheting off the Cardiff midfielder and going wide.

Scott Brown shot wide from 20 yards after a neat change of direction and Miller had a header cleared away by a defender guarding the near post from a corner.

Scotland then survived a double scare thanks to the reactions of Gordon and Gary Caldwell.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

A deflected long-range strike from Kranjcar was instinctively clawed away by the Sunderland keeper and the Celtic defender made an acrobatic challenge to prevent Ivica Olic from knocking in the loose ball from inside the six-yard box.

With both sides making changes in personnel, the game grew increasingly fragmented but the visitors continued to look the more dangerous side.

And Gordon had to make another fine save to get a hand to a drilled effort from Parma striker Igor Budan.

A powerful surge from Hutton set up his former Rangers team-mate Kris Boyd but the substitute's strike was palmed away by Pletikosa.


Scotland: Gordon, Hutton, Naysmith (McEveley 62), Caldwell (Anderson 70), McManus, Darren Fletcher (Alexander 90), Hartley, Brown (Teale 66), Maloney (Boyd 72), Miller, Steven Fletcher (Rae 46). Subs Not Used: Marshall, Berra, O'Connor.

Booked: Brown, McManus, Naysmith.

Goal: Miller 30.

Croatia: Pletikosa, Robert Kovac (Knezevic 73), Corluka (Simic 85), Simunic, Srna (Leko 63), Nico Kovac (Vukojevic 46), Modric, Kranjcar, Pranjic, Petric (Klasnic 58), Olic (Budan 57). Subs Not Used: Galinovic.

Booked: Nico Kovac, Robert Kovac, Vukojevic, Simunic.

Goal: Kranjcar 10.

Att: 28,821

Ref: Terje Hauge (Norway).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Croatia's Niko Kranjcar 7.50 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
Boss Burley passes his first exam
27 Mar 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Burley praise for Scotland spirit
26 Mar 08 |  Internationals
Wednesday's football photos
26 Mar 08 |  Football
International football as it happened
26 Mar 08 |  Internationals


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