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Page last updated at 22:13 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 23:13 UK

Scots blast critics in Iceland

By Thomas McGuigan

Kirk Broadfoot celebrates his first half goal in Reykjavik
Kirk Broadfoot capped a fine Scotland debut with a goal

Supporting Scotland has always proved something of a health hazard.

Dazed after Saturday's loss in the searing Macedonian heat, George Burley's side faced another test - in the cooler climes of Reykjavik.

Some observers had suggested Scotland's World Cup qualifying campaign was already in tatters.

And Burley knew the pressure was on to secure his first competitive win since succeeding Alex McLeish.

After targeting 17 points from his side's eight qualifying games in Group Nine, he opted for an attacking line-up against Iceland.

Shaun Maloney and Kris Commons were tasked with providing ammunition from the flanks for James McFadden and Kirk Broadfoot was given his international debut.

Previous Scotland managers have built success away from home on a solid defensive formation and conservative approach, but Burley knew he needed to attack to secure three points.

The opening 15 minutes in Reykjavik saw Scotland under the cosh and the normally razor-sharp Eidur Gudjohnsen scooped a shot over the bar when it looked easier to score.

Then Broadfoot's bullet header from Barry Robson's corner gave the Scots an unexpected lead.

The Rangers right-back launched lung-bursting run after another during the game.

He was the most tireless performer in the Laugardalsvollur stadium - save for the Scottish piper who was keen to add a musical flavour to the Tartan Army's passionate support.

Scotland still lack the ability to keep possession away from home and take the sting out of games when required.

Scott Brown and Darren Fletcher continue to look ill-at-ease in Burley's side.

Nevertheless, they showed character to withstand an Iceland onslaught early in the second half.

McFadden then saw his penalty saved and he fought with team-mate Barry Robson to fire the rebound into the net and double Scotland's lead.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

But the supporters must have feared the worst, moments later, when captain Stephen McManus was sent off for deliberate handball and Gudjohnsen fired home from the spot.

Just as the points looked safe, Caldwell managed to get his body between ball and goal to deflect late shot wide for a corner.

Scotland repelled the final, furious Iceland attack and victory was secured.

At full-time, Burley - with his blazer flapping in the Reykjavik evening breeze David Pleat-style - urged his players to applaud the Tartan Army who had sang themselves hoarse for the cause.

The Scots now turn their attention to Norway and their qualifier at Hampden on 11 October.

Tottenham full-back Alan Hutton may have regained fitness by then, but will Broadfoot be dropped after such a superb display?

Whether he opts for 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 against the Norwegians, Burley's courageous tactics in Iceland were rewarded with his first competitive victory in charge of the national side.

Reading the morning papers over his cornflakes won't be a chore for the Scotland manager after this result.

Three points in the bag, just 14 to go...


see also
Iceland 1-2 Scotland
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Burley cheered by Scots victory
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals


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