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Levein under pressure as Scots held

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11 Sep 2012 22:47:40

Levein under pressure as Scots held

Scotland's stuttering start to their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign continued as they had to come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw with minnows Macedonia at Hampden heaping the pressure on coach Craig Levein.

After starting their campaign with a disappointing goalless draw with Serbia on Saturday Scotland had been desperate to secure a win against Macedonia, who sit 50 places below the Scots in the world rankings.

However, the visitors belied their lowly status as they dominated the opening proceedings and took an 11th minute lead through Nikolce Noveski, although the Macedonian defender looked a yard offside.

Allan McGregor saved with his legs from an Agim Ibraimi shot before a mistake from Macedonia allowed Kenny Miller to tap in a 43rd minute equaliser.

Substitute Ferhan Hasani rattled the post with a fierce strike in the second half before fellow sub Jordan Rhodes headed into the side netting for Scotland.

The Scots had keeper McGregor to thank for securing them a point as he twice came to the rescue with superb saves from Daniel Georgievski and Mirko Ivanovski.

The result, which was greeted with a chorus of jeers from the Tartan Army at the final whistle, leaves Scotland in fourth place in Group A behind Serbia, Belgium and Croatia.

Scotland had created an early chance when Miller laid the ball off for Gary Caldwell, who blazed his shot high and wide.

Macedonia's Georgievski soon set up Ivan Trichovski for a low drive that McGregor tipped round the post.

The visitors took the lead in controversial fashion in the 11th minute. A well-worked short corner saw Goran Pandev release Trichkovski down the inside left channel and his pass was stabbed home by Noveski, who appeared to be offside.

Scotland were rattled and nearly fell further behind when Ibraimi was allowed space to fire a shot just wide of McGregor's post from 20 yards.

Two minutes later Pandev picked out Ibraimi again but after a good first touch the Maribor player's shot sailed well wide of the post.

Napoli midfielder Pandev was at the heart of everything for Macedonia and with 30 minutes on the clock he showed great skill to turn his marker before playing a perfectly weighted ball to Ibraimi but his first time effort was blocked by McGregor's legs.

A Macedonian mistake allowed Scotland to equalise in the 43rd minute. James Morrison's through ball was missed by Vanche Shikov allowing Jamie Mackie to race clear into the box and slide the ball across for Miller to tap in.

Scotland survived a scare in the 58th minute when McGregor could only punch a cross clear to the edge of the box where sub Hasani took a touch before rattling the post with a rasping drive.

Miller made way for Charlie Adam in the 58th minute, much to the dismay of the Tartan Army, who were calling for the introduction of Jordan Rhodes.

However, they didn't have to wait long to see the Blackburn striker who replaced Morrison in the 66th minute.

The prolific striker, who scored 40 goals for Huddersfield last season, nearly made a dream start to his Hampden debut when he stooped to meet Adam's cross but he sent his diving header into the side netting.

McGregor came to the rescue for Scotland again when he stuck out a leg to deny Ivanovski's shot after he had been played in by Pandev


AFP

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