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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 15:56 UK

Macedonia 1-0 Scotland

By Thomas McGuigan

Ilco Naumouski celebrates firing Macedonia in front
Scotland fell behind after five minutes in Skopje

Scotland lacked cool heads as they lost their opening World Cup qualifier against Macedonia on a baking hot afternoon in Skopje.

A poor Scotland side conceded a goal five minutes into manager George Burley's first competitive match.

Goran Maznov earned a soft free-kick on the edge of the area and Ilcho Naumoski fired home after Craig Gordon tipped Goce Sedloski's effort onto the post.

James McFadden was denied a penalty after the break as Macedonia held on.

Burley opted to play McFadden and Kenny Miller up front in a 4-4-2 formation, with stand-in skipper Stephen McManus recovering from a knock to take his place in the heart of defence.

Scotland conceded an early free-kick when the Macedonia striker Maznov tumbled theatrically on the edge of the penalty box as he was challenged by McManus.

From the set-piece Gordon brilliantly touched Macedonia captain Sedloski's strike onto the post, but Naumoski followed up to drill the ball low into the net.

Scotland struggled to establish any rhythm in the opening 15 minutes and Gary Caldwell was fortunate to avoid a yellow card for a scything challenge on Pandev.

Pandev and Maznov were causing the Scots problems with their movement and were far more comfortable in possession than the visitors.

Barry Robson's surging run after 20 minutes forced a corner for the visitors, but Paul Hartley's cross evaded Caldwell at the back post.

Scotland spurned a chance to equalise 10 minutes later when McFadden delayed his shot on the edge of the area, allowing the Macedonians to regroup.

Scotland midfielder Barry Robson in action in Skopje
Scotland midfielder Barry Robson was left frustrated

The Birmingham City striker went closer nine minutes before half-time when his ambitious shot was turned behind by Milosevski for a corner.

Caldwell prevented Maznov from doubling Macedonia's lead seconds later when he blocked his shot after the Scots were cut open by a simple ball forward.

Scotland showed greater urgency after the break and Brown's 18-yard shot was saved well by Petar Milosevski.

Gary Naysmith then sent in a superb cross, but Darren Fletcher failed to connect from inside the six-yard box, much to the visible frustration of Burley on the touchline.

Gordon then superbly tipped Veliche Shumulikoski's blistering drive over the bar as the hosts sought to double their lead.

Kris Commons was brought on for Hartley and Scotland felt they were denied a penalty when Milosevski appeared to clip McFadden in the box, but the referee waved away the appeals and booked the Scotland striker for his protests.


Burley then introduced Shaun Maloney for Robson, but Maloney's late drive was the closest the Scots came to breaching the Macedonian rearguard.

Defeat increases the pressure on Scotland to take something from Wednesday's qualifier against Iceland.

FYR Macedonia: Milosevski, Noveski, Petrov (Grncarov 78), Sedloski, Mitreski, Lazarevski, Georgievski, Shumulikoski, Maznov, Pandev (Tasevski 82), Naumoski (Trajanov 69). Subs Not Used: Pacovski, Polozani, Demiri, Ristic.

Booked: Naumoski, Shumulikoski, Pandev.

Goals: Naumoski 5.

Scotland: Gordon, Alexander, Naysmith, McManus, Caldwell, Hartley (Commons 65), Fletcher, Brown, Miller (Boyd 80), McFadden, Robson (Maloney 76). Subs Not Used: McGregor, Broadfoot, Stewart, Berra.

Booked: McFadden.

Att: 10,000

Ref: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic)

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Macedonia's Veliche Shumulikoski 7.71 (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
Burley praise for Scots courage
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Scots fans turned away from game
06 Sep 08 |  Scotland
World Cup qualifying photos
06 Sep 08 |  Football
Live text - World Cup qualifiers
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals

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