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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Scotland U21s win thriller
Scotland U21 3-2 Lithuania U21

Scotland's matchwinner, Stephen Hughes
Stephen Hughes scored twice to rescue Scotland
Two goals in the final minute from Stephen Hughes sent Scotland U21's into the European Championship play-offs with victory over Lithuania.

The Rangers midfielder secured the three points in an amazing finish to clinch Group 5 ahead of Germany for Rainer Bonhof's men.

Scotland looked destined for defeat after Marius Stankevicius put Lithuania ahead in the fifth minute - then the home team squandered a penalty chance just nine minutes later.

Aurimas Kucys added to the Scots' misery as he netted from the spot to make it 2-0 following a foul by Steven Hammell.

KEY MOMENTS
5 mins: Marius Stankevicius puts Lithuania ahead
14 mins: Simon Lynch misses penalty for Scots
71 mins: Aurimas Kucys doubles Lithuania's lead from the spot
79 mins: Steven Hammell nets for Scotland
89 mins: Stephen Hughes puts the Scots on level terms
91 mins: Hughes nets again in injury time to seal win

But Hammell gave Scotland hope after 79 minutes with a smart finish from close range after a penetrating cross.

Then, with the fans urging Scotland on, Hughes showed composure as he met a cross from substitute Tom McManus with an emphatic header to equalise in the final minute of the game.

And there was still time for the Rangers man to go one better and he wrapped up both the game and the group with a low drive after chesting the ball down in the box.

It was a remarkable finish to a remarkable campaign by Bonhof's side, who top the group with 13 points - the same as Germany.

Lithuania didn't deserve to be top of the group
Scotland coach Rainer Bonhof

"I still can't believe it," said Bonhof.

"I passed the dressing-room of the Lithuanians and they were quiet. My boys are celebrating.

"But they deserve to celebrate because they never gave up and believed in themselves."

Stephen Hughes slots home the winning goal in Perth
Stephen Hughes slots home the winning goal in Perth
Bonhof said he felt his team had deserved any luck that came their way.

"After the way we have performed in the campaign, we were the only ones who deserve to be at the top of the group," he said.

"We had excellent results against Germany and beat Iceland twice.

"Lithuania didn't deserve to be top of the group."

The Germans - who beat Iceland 1-0 on Friday evening - finished second as Scotland have a better head-to-head record between the teams,


Scotland U21: Soutar, McCracken, Caldwell, Kennedy, Canero, Kerr, Williams, Stewart, Hammell, Maloney, Lynch. Subs: Gordon, Dowie, Montgomery, McManus, Hughes, Gallagher, Dillon.

Lithuania U21: Karcemarskas, Paulauskas, Marius Stankevicius, Klimavacius, Majus, Savenas, Kucys, Radavicius, Radzinevicius, Grigalevicius, Deividas Cesnauskis. Subs: Kazlauskas, Grybauskas, Mikuckis, Panka, Kavaliauskas, Mikoliunas, Tarvydas, Mizigurskis.

Referee: Emil Bozinovski (FYR Macedonia)







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