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BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"It was all a little sad at a half-full Hampden"
 real 14k

Saturday, 6 October, 2001, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Scots out with a whimper
Dougie Freedman nods Scotland back on level terms
Dougie Freedman nods Scotland back on level terms
Scotland 2-1 Latvia

Scotland's faint World Cup hopes fizzled out with an unconvincing win over Latvia at Hampden.

Andrejs Rubins fired Latvia into a deserved lead only for Scotland to fight back and salvage a degree of pride.

Dougie Freedman marked his international debut with a goal and David Weir pitched in with another.

A miserable crowd of around 20,000 looked on in frustration as the Scots huffed and puffed but seldom displayed the necessary guile to break down the nation ranked 94th in the world.

Don Hutchison takes a tumble
Don Hutchison takes a tumble
Scotland kicked off knowing they had to win handsomely while at the same time relying on Belgium to win in Croatia.

Only those results with a seven-goal swing on the day would be enough to pip the Croats on goal difference and reach the play-offs.

Croatia won and a cricket score never looked likely against the lively Latvians.

The visitors were always dangerous on the counter-attack and the pace and trickery of Marian Pahars and Rubins tore Scotland open on several occasions.


Crystal Palace striker Freedman was handed his first cap and Dunfermline midfielder Barry Nicholson made his home bow.

Gary Naysmith's injury opened the door for Callum Davidson to fill the gap on the left side of midfield and Neil McCann and Colin Cameron were also back in the side.

In the 21st minute Latvia stunned Scotland with the opening goal following a blunder from Christian Dailly.

The Hampden turn out was very poor
The Hampden turn out was very poor
The West Ham defender allowed Verpakovskis to dispossess him in the penalty area and lay the ball back to Rubins who bobbled a shot past Neil Sullivan.

Sullivan saved his side soon after when he saved a Pahars effort with his feet after the Southampton striker had tied the Scottish defence in knots with some clever footwork.

Freedman came close after waiting 37 minutes for a chance but his header from McCann's cross looped over the bar.

Captain Craig Burley saw a long-range shot deflected away for a corner and Scotland went on to equalise a minute before half-time.


McCann swung the ball in and keeper Kolinko was found wanting as he was challenged by Hutchison and Dailly.

The ball was deflected goalwards where Freedman was waiting to head the ball in off the man on the line, Rubins.

Scotland started the second half brightly and went in front eight minutes after the restart when Weir rose unchallenged to head in a Burley free kick.

Latvia continued to cause problems on the break and Sullivan had to make a smart save from a Verpakovskis glancing header.

A fabulous saving tackle from Davidson then denied a certain goal for Verpakovskis just a few yards from goal.

With Scotland committing players to attack, the Latvians were finding huge holes in the home defence and Sullivan had to make good stops to deny Rubins and Verpakovskis again.

Freedman could have claimed another goal but scooped a 82nd minute shot over the bar when in the clear.

Scotland: Sullivan, Weir, Elliott, Dailly, Nicholson, Cameron, Burley, Davidson, Hutchison, Freedman, McCann. Subs: Douglas, Naysmith, Holt, Rae, Severin, Booth, Crawford.

Latvia: Kolinko, Juris Laizans, Stepanovs, Zakresevskis, Blagonadezhdin, Raimonds Laizans, Astasjevs, Isakovs, Rubins, Pahars, Verpakovskis. Subs: Piedels, Lukashevich, Zemlinskis, Lobanevs, Pucinsks, Kolesnicpnko, Dobrecovs.

Referee: T Hauge

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