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Page last updated at 09:06 GMT, Wednesday, 13 October 2010 10:06 UK

Scots can build on Spain pain

Scotland and Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam
Adam played a big part in Scotland's stirring comeback against Spain

By Colin Moffat
BBC Scotland at Hampden

Indulto is a bullfighting term for a pardon granted to a bull for exceptional bravery.

And for a while at Hampden it looked as if Scotland might earn a stay of execution against the European and world champions, having staged a stirring comeback to draw level from 2-0 down.

However, the ruthless Spanish matadors seized on a late defensive lapse to kill the brave Scots off.

And so another chapter is added to the already sizeable volume of glorious Scottish sporting failures.

While few would quibble with Spain's obvious superiority, there was much to hearten the noisy home support, including a man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper Allan McGregor, a first international goal for Steven Naismith and a dazzling cameo from Charlie Adam.

The second half substitute turned in a performance full of swagger and poise.

It's hard to take but we showed we have good players in the squad and you saw the team's character in the second half

Charlie Adam

And, for the 10 minutes around the hour mark when Spain were pegged back, the Blackpool midfielder was pinging the ball around with gleeful abandon and chipping in with a few crunching tackles.

Spain dominated for long spells, with Xabi Alonso and Andres Iniesta a joy to behold in the centre of the park, but, make no mistake, the visitors were concerned during that period of Scottish ascendency.

The ever-impassive manager Vicente del Bosque, who barely cracked a smile when the World Cup was won, cut a worried figure until Fernando Llorente came off the bench to snatch the decisive goal.

It's not so long ago that Adam was regularly mocked at Scottish Premier League grounds for carrying a few too many pounds.

Now the 24-year-old is captaining a side in the English top flight and has made a strong case for adding to his six caps.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

"I loved it," Adam told BBC Scotland. "It's always nice to play at a fantastic stadium in front of fantastic fans.

"The atmosphere was terrific and it's just unfortunate we lost that goal late on.

"It's hard to take but we showed we have good players in the squad and you saw the team's character in the second half.

"You always want to test yourself against the best and they are the world champions. You saw some wonderful football from Spain but we caused them problems."

With Darren Fletcher bursting a gut to cover an almost-inconceivable amount of ground, it might prove fruitful to employ Adam as a deep-lying playmaker, in the same way Italy use Andrea Pirlo.

Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor
McGregor pulled off a string of fine saves against the world champions

Naismith, James Morrison and Graham Dorrans worked as a lively trio behind the tireless Kenny Miller, while James McFadden and Shaun Maloney are useful characters to have on the standby list.

At the back, Phil Bardsley proved an able deputy for Alan Hutton but David Weir may well be retired by the time Scotland's next qualifier comes round in September 2011, while Stephen McManus and Steven Whittaker were guilty of gifting goals by poor judgement.

Scotland have to win their fixtures against Czech Republic, Lithuania and Liechtenstein to have any chance of claiming a play-off place for a spot at Euro 2012.

"There is no wriggle room," as BBC Scotland pundit Pat Nevin said.

And on the evidence of Tuesday night, maybe that is no bad thing.

With nine points required from three fixtures, the defensive shackles that bored and frustrated fans in equal measure in Prague last week must come off.

And there was enough evidence at Hampden to suggest that a positive approach is the best way forward.

Spain are on course to claim maximum points in Group I as they seek to defend the title they claimed in 2008.

With a string of fine saves to deny David Villa and co, McGregor proved that Scotland has two top class goalkeepers to choose from.

It's just a pity Craig Levein can't select him and Craig Gordon for the trip to Spain when the qualifying campaign draws to a close next October.



see also
Highlights - Scotland 2-3 Spain
13 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Spain praise for Scottish spirit
13 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Levein 'sick' after Scotland loss
12 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Scotland 2-3 Spain
12 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Close, but no cigarillo
12 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Scotland v Spain photo gallery
12 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Scotland v Spain as it happened
12 Oct 10 |  Scotland


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