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Furious Levein slams ref after penalty drama

04 Sep 2011 01:30:15

Furious Levein slams ref after penalty drama

Scotland coach Craig Levein slammed Dutch referee Kevin Blom for two penalty blunders that left his side's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign in tatters after a 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic at Hampden on Saturday.

Scotland's hopes of securing second spot and a play-off place are hanging by a slender thread thanks to Blom's interventions in the final moments at Hampden Park on Saturday.

Kenny Miller opened the scoring against the run of play a minute before the break but Jaroslav Pasil headed home a 78th equaliser for the Czechs.

A Jan Rajnoch mistake allowed Miller to cross for Fletcher to score what looked to be a Scotland winner in the 83rd minute.

But controversy struck in the final minute when Blom pointed to the spot after substitute Jan Rezek went down despite no apparent contact from Danny Wilson, with Michal Kadlec expertly converting the penalty.

Scotland defender Christophe Berra was then booked for diving in stoppage time although he appeared to be brought down by Roman Hubnik in the Czech box.

Levein's side are now five points behind the Czechs with a game in hand and the Scots boss launched a scathing attack on Blom as he contemplated the tough road ahead to snatch second place.

"From where I was standing I couldn't see whether there was contact in the first one or not but I could see there was contact with Berra," Levein said.

"You would need to ask the referee why he made two such major, major mistakes. It is easy for managers to come in after the game and blame the referee for their team's inadequacies.

"But when they have two stark decisions like that looked at in isolation in the last ten minutes of the match then I can't do anything else but say they cost us the game.

"I was waiting around after the game to speak to the referee but I thought 'What is the point?' so I went back down into the dressing room to calm down a bit."

Levein hopes UEFA will look at Blom's performance and take action against the official.

"It beggars belief that he could make two mistakes of such magnitude," he said.

"It is a shame we are sitting here talking after this match, which I thought was a fantastic game, about refereeing decisions. But I can't get away from it. I'm annoyed at what's happened.

"I don't know how the process works in UEFA and whether someone will look at his performance and he will miss out on future international matches because of him missing these two decisions."

The result leaves Scotland on five points after five games and they now need to win their remaining three matches, including an away trip to world champions Spain, and rely on other teams doing them a favour if they are to claim second spot.

Despite the odds being stacked against them Levein, whose side face Lithuania at Hampden on Tuesday, said he had not given up on his side qualifying for their first major tournament in 14 years.

"We need to win all our games but that's a challenge we are ready for. There were so many good things from the match that I take great encouragement from," he said.

"They have moved on an awful lot and I think in spells we played some good stuff and I think we are getting better. We will get up and give it a right go on Tuesday.

"There is fire in the players' bellies after this match and we will use that on Tuesday.

"They are angry about what happened - they are not feeling sorry for themselves. We will use the anger we feel to get ourselves focused for the match."

Scotland will be without Miller and Scott Brown who are suspended after picking up bookings against the Czechs while there are injury doubts over Alan Hutton, Charlie Adam, Phil Bardsley and Craig Mackail-Smith.


AFP

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