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Page last updated at 20:53 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 21:53 UK

Scotland 2-1 Iceland

By Colin Moffat

Ross McCormack (left) was on target for Scotland
McCormack (left) opened the scoring for Scotland at Hampden

Ross McCormack and Steven Fletcher scored their first Scotland goals to set up a vital World Cup qualifying win over Iceland at Hampden.

A fabulous run from Alan Hutton set up McCormack to slam a shot into the roof of the net shortly before half time.

Indridi Sigurdsson levelled when he reacted quickest to a shot against the woodwork from Palmi Palmason.

Fletcher restored the lead with a close range header and the Scots survived some late pressure for a tense triumph.

With a record of one win from eight games prior to kick-off, manager George Burley was under increasing pressure.

However, a second Group nine victory against Iceland propels Scotland back into second place behind runaway leaders Netherlands and ensured there would be less scrutiny given to the decision to drop skipper Barry Ferguson for his role in a drinking session at the team hotel.

An attacking Scotland line-up made a positive start, flooding forward at every opportunity, with Steven Fletcher seeing a lot of the ball on his first international start.

The Hibernian striker was given a glimpse of goal after 10 minutes but his early shot from the edge of the penalty area was deflected wide by a defender.

Kenny Miller tried his luck with a low, swerving drive but the effort was easily smothered by goalkeeper Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson.

On the half hour, Fletcher got his head to a flashing corner from McCormack but could only divert the ball over the crossbar.

As the Scots ramped up the pressure, it needed two lunging Icelandic defenders to deny Darren Fletcher in front of goal after an unfortunate stumble from Miller.

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The breakthrough came six minutes before the interval and it was all thanks to some great work from Hutton, making his first start in any competitive game since he injured his foot on Scotland duty back in November.

A powerful surge down the right flank saw the Spurs full-back leave a trail of opponents in his wake as he drove into the penalty area and slid the ball across goal.

McCormack latched on to the inviting pass and placed a shot high into the net from 10 yards.

The impressive Hutton flashed an ambitious volley wide from distance early in the second half before coming much closer with a drilled strike, which Gunnleifsson got down smartly to block.

The visitors had shown nothing in attack until they equalised out of the blue on 54 minutes.

Steven Fletcher scored the winning goal
Fletcher nodded in the winning goal for an under-pressure Scotland side

Palmason turned Stephen McManus brilliantly and unleashed a shot which thundered off the post and Sigurdsson was on hand to blaze the rebound back into the net.

The leveller stunned the Hampden crowd into silence but the home fans found their voices again 10 minutes later.

From the award of a dubious corner, McManus rose highest to power a header into the danger area and Fletcher stole across the six yard box to nod the ball into the net.

James Morrison stung the palms of Gunnleifsson with a vicious long-range free kick and the West Brom midfielder screwed an angled shot wide from a promising position soon after.

There was an almighty scare for Scotland in the final minute when goalkeeper Craig Gordon had to make a sensational double save before Palmason smashed the loose ball high over the target from 14 yards.

Scotland are now dormant until an August visit to Norway, while all the other sides in Group 9 play twice in June.


Scotland : Gordon, Hutton, McManus, Caldwell, Naysmith, Morrison (Rae 90), Darren Fletcher, Brown, McCormack, Miller, Steven Fletcher (Teale 78).
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Berra, Ferguson, Clarkson, Whittaker.

Goals : McCormack 39, Steven Fletcher 65.

Iceland : Gunnleifsson, Danielsson, Kristjan Orn Sigurdsson, Indridi Sigurdsson (Bjornsson 80), Eiriksson, Steinsson, Aron Gunnarsson (Eggert Jonsson 70), Helguson, Palmason, Gudjohnsen, Smarason.
Subs Not Used: Arason, Gudmundsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Gunnarson, Bjarnason.

Booked : Smarason.

Goal : Indridi Sigurdsson 54.

Att : 42,259

Ref : Thomas Einwaller (Austria).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Scotland's Ross McCormack (8.19 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.



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see also
Burley praises Gordon performance
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Scots duo breach to be reviewed
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals


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