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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Scotland battle past Lithuania
Darren Fletcher celebrates his first Scotland goal
Scotland 1-0 Lithuania

Teenager Darren Fletcher was the hero as Scotland made sure of a Euro 2004 play-off place with an unconvincing victory over Lithuania.

The 19-year-old Manchester United starlet came off the bench to score a 70th minute goal and keep Scotland hopes of playing in Portugal next summer alive.

Prior to Fletcher's introduction, Scotland had made heavy weather of breaking down stubborn opponents.

With group winners Germany beating Iceland, Scotland finished the qualifying section as runners-up.

Roared on by the first sell-out crowd at Hampden Park for four years, Scotland made a brisk start, with James McFadden looking lively wide on the left flank.

The Everton youngster linked up well with Kenny Miller after brilliantly beating two men near the corner flag before setting up the Wolves striker for a shot that was sliced well off target.

The Scots found it difficult to find space behind well-organised and physically-imposing opponents and with half an hour gone Lithuanian goalkeeper Gintaras Stauce was yet to get his gloves dirty.

Scotland were given a real scare after 36 minutes when a fierce 16 yard shot from Nerijus Barasa was pushed away instinctively by Robert Douglas.

Bring on the big guns. I fancy our chances against anyone and beating them at Hampden
Darren Fletcher

The game was very disjointed with both sides committing a number of niggling fouls and neither set of players capable of holding on to the ball for long.

Soon after the interval Lithuanian defender Rolandas Dziaukstas was given a free header at goal from a corner but the ball flew straight at Douglas.

A few minutes later, a goal-line clearance prevented Stevie Crawford's glancing header, again from a corner, finding the corner of the Lithuanian net.

Scotland were showing a greater appetite for the fight and McFadden's promising surge into the penalty box ended with his cut-back being deflected on to the post by Lithuania's Tomas Zvirgzdauskas.

Scotland were given a let off after 62 minutes when Robertas Poskus hopelessly misjudged a header from six yards out.

With 66 minutes gone Miller and Colin Cameron were replaced by Don Hutchison and Fletcher and the Manchester United youth wasted no time in making his mark on his Hampden debut.

Full-back Gary Naysmith made it to the by-line and his low cross found its way into the teenager's path on the edge of the penalty area and he lashed home a sweet strike.

With 10 minutes remaining Crawford swung in an early cross from the right but the stretching Hutchison could only divert the ball over the crossbar from close range.


Scotland: Douglas, McNamara, Pressley, Dailly, Naysmith, Cameron (Fletcher 66), Ferguson, Rae, McFadden (Graham Alexander 90), Crawford, Miller (Hutchison 66). Subs not used: Neil Alexander, Webster, Wilkie, Harper.

Lithuania: Stauce, Dziaukstas, Dedura, Barasa, Regelskis (Beniusis 86), Zvirgzdauskas, Vencevicius (Maciulevicius 80), Baravicius (Cesnauskis 45), Jankauskas, Razanauskas, Poskus. Subs not used:Zutautas, Alunderis, Buitkus, Skerla.

Attendance: 50,343

Referee: Claude Colombo (France).






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