- match commentary
- European World Cup Qualifiers
- 8 September 2012, 3:00pm
- Hampden Park
FULL TIME:Quite a few boos from the Hampden crowd as the final whistle blows. A little harsh from the Tartan Army as plenty of toil went into this performance, but a lack of finesse, subtlety and firepower meant Serbia weren't tested sufficiently. Indeed the visitors may have snatched victory with a handful of chance on the break. With Belgium and Croatia in this group, who both started with wins, you have to call this a pretty underwhelming start. Full summary to follow shortly.
90+1 mins: Now Scotland almost snatch it! Brilliant work from Adam to pick out the run of Forrest into the right hand side of the box. He gets a low shot away towards the far post, Stojkovic half-stops it and Serbia just manage to hack away the loose ball inside their won six yard box.
90 mins: FABULOUS save from McGregor! Lazovic plays Tadic through the centre with an exquisite diagonal pass. He has Webster tugging and snapping at him from behind, but still gets his shot away and McGregor spreads himself to make an absolutely crucial block. Phew.
87 mins: Further disgruntlement for the home crowd as Ignjovski collapses in agony and play is held up for his treatment. Serbia eventually play on with ten momentarily, having used all three subs. The game is meandering. It'll take something unexpected to force a win for either side.
84 mins: The Hampden crowd lift the volume as Scotland get a free kick right of the area. Adam's delivery quickly turns the roar into a groan.
83 mins: Serbia make a sub, with Dejan Lekic coming on for Djuricic. That would indicate an attempt to shut up shop from Sinisa Mihajlovic. A shout out to David in Falkirk, who says: "The wife has dragged me out for carpet shopping. Thanks to your commentary I am surviving!" I feel your pain, Davie lad, but you're not missing much.
81 mins: Double change for Scotland - Morrison and Miller are replaced by QPR's Jamie Mackie and Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes. What impact can this pair have in the last ten minutes?
79 mins: Ninkovic takes one for the team by pulling back Caldwell as he was about to scamper forward from midfield and launch a counter attack.
78 mins: The Hampden crowd is bawling at their side to get forward. The game is drifting to an unsatisfactory end for both sides. Jordan Rhodes looks set to enter the arena from the bench.
76 mins: Adam whips a free kick into the mixer and Serbia leave Miller all alone! They needn't have worried as he totally mistimes his jump (again!) and the ball spoons off the back of his noggin and plops safely into the keeper's gloves. He has not had a vintage afternoon.
72 mins: Many thanks to those of you who pointed out that I referred to Charlie Adam as 'the Blackpool midfielder'! The Seasiders have a few Scotsmen on their books but Adam certainly isn't one of them any more. Back to the game, and I've got a tingle there's going to be a late goal in this one. Call it a hunch.
69 mins: First change for Scotland - Snodgrass (who I think has had a decent game) is replaced by Celtic's James Forrest. Snodgrass gives a rueful shake of the head as he sees his number come up.
66 mins: WHAT a chance for Naismith! A brilliant tackle in midfield by Caldwell is followed by a perfect pass to send the Everton midfielder through the middle and one-on-one with Stojkovic. He has a defender right up his backside but that is still no excuse for a horribly shanked finish that sends the ball off his foot at a seemingly impossible angle and well wide. Deary me. A hideous waste.
65 mins: Craig Levein sends out several of his substitutes to warm up. The crowd is getting restless and a change is certainly warranted.
62 mins: So close for Serbia! The ball is dragged back into the path of Kolarov on the left corner of the area. He takes it in his stride and smashes a low shot past McGregor's outstretched glove. It whistles worryingly towards the far corner but bends away at the last milisecond and goes wide. Big scare.
60 mins: Oh, great chance for Miller! Serbia are slow to get bodies out of their own box after clearing a corner. As Snodgrass hooks the ball back into the area, Miller is onside and has an age to judge the ball's flight for a free header on goal. Mystifyingly, he jumps about 15 minutes too early and watches the ball sail over his head and a genuine chance go begging.
58 mins: Adam sprays a pre-planned corner out to the far side to Morrison but he in turn overhits his cross back to Adam. The Stoke midfielder feeds it back to Berra who chips over the top of Serbia's back line for Miller, who's onside, but Stojkovic dashes off his line to narrow the angle and smother his shot on the stretch. No more than half a chance really.
56 mins: Ignjovski is allowed to drift too easily inside Hutton and unleashes a drive which, although comfortably wide, elicits a bellow of rage from McGregor.
53 mins: Morrison dreadfully overhits a right-wing cross out of play. "Scotland will win in the last minute 2-1." Not my words, you understand, but those of Maz in Birmingham on the text. You can add your thoughts on this game or on life in general by using the boxes to your right. What are y'all up to on this glorious afternoon?
51 mins: Half a chance! Berra gets his bonce on to a corner and nods it back across the face. It's always going wide, but Snodgrass lunges in and is a second too late to re-divert it towards goal from close range.
49 mins: A handball by Hutton by the corner flag gives Serbia a chance to whip one in. It's allowed to travel right into the heart of the area but Scotland scramble it clear. The hosts can't keep possession for any sustained period.
48 mins: Snodgrass is booked for leading with his arm in an aerial challenge. Looked a severe decision and plenty of the crowd greet it with boos.
46 mins: A quick cuppa and a Twix and I'm ready for the second half. So are the players. One change for Serbia at the interval - Ljubomir Fejsa is on for Mijailovic.
HALF TIME: Craig Levein will be neither delighted nor downhearted with that first half. His side put Serbia under pressure in the first 25 minutes but so often the lack of a dainty or accurate final ball let them down. Snodgrass had their best chance, but Miller is too isolated up front and the visitors asserted more and more control as the half wore on. Stay tuned.
44 mins: Serbia work a corner short and the ball is fed to the corner of the area for Lazovic. Mcgregor is expecting a curler towards the far post, but the Red Star Belgrade player duffs it into the centre of the net. McGregor is almost wrong-footed, but twists his body and flops on the ball just in time.
42 mins: Mijailovic gifts Scotland possession in midfield, allowing Morrison to set Miller free into the box on the right. However, like many of the Scots' attacking play so far, it breaks down with a lack of composure and technique at the crucial juncture. The Vancouver Whitecaps striker dinks a cross on to the roof of the net, with two team-mates waiting for a more accurate delivery in the centre.
40 mins: A sign of the times in this decision by referee Jonas Eriksson. Hutton wins the ball fair and square in a 50-50 with Ninkovic. However, because he went in with both feet, peep goes the whistle for a foul. Both benches are in uproar at the decision. Being a bit 'old school' myself, I tend to agree with the Scottish point of view.
37 mins: Adam robs Nastasic of the ball on halfway and make good ground down the right until he's unluckily pulled up for a foul. That's a rare foray for the hosts in the last ten minutes.
33 mins: Serbia have been keeping the ball patiently in the last three or four minutes, not making much ground but frustrating the crowd and the opposition.
31 mins: Nastasic is booked for a crude crash into the rushing Naismith.
29 mins: Brilliant tackle from Dixon! Tosic is fed into the right side of the box but foiled by a perfectly timed lunge from the Huddersfield Town full-back.
26 mins: Bisevac takes aim from around 35 yards and admires his four iron that sails neatly into the middle of the fairway and causes McGregor no alarm.
25 mins: Scotland's defensive line pushes up in unison just in time as Djuricic is played through the middle. He manages to fire wide, but the flag was up in timely manner anyway.
22 mins: Scotland's best chance yet! Serbia fall asleep, allow Hutton to take a quick free kick through to Snodgrass down the inside right channel. He drags the ball past Lazovic and has only Stojkovic to beat from a tight angle. The ball hits the keeper's chest and flashes just wide of the far stick, with Miller watching it fly agonisingly past him.
21 mins: Adam pulls a corner back low to the edge of the area in 'Teddy Sheringham late-90s style' for Snodgrass. His shot is a little timid though and Serbia hoof clear. Scotland still playing with admirable vim.
18 mins: Naimsith has a great chance to put Miller through as Serbia push up for offside, but overhits the pass out for a throw-in. You can't expect Miller's knackered old legs to chase that down!
15 mins: Deary me! Naismith is so lucky not to be sent off for an off-the-ball forearm smash into the head of Mijailovic. Serbia have been very physical thus far, but that is taking retaliation a little too far! Luckily for the Everton midfielder, the referee didn't spot it.
14 mins: Scotland continue to pressurise, particularly from set pieces. Adam whips in a free kick which the busy Kolarov heads out of his keeper's hands and over the bar.
11 mins: A crazy 90 seconds. Morrison's cross is dangerously deflected right across the bows of Stojkovic's goal and Kolarov has to chest it just wide of the post for a corner. From it, there's a total mess of a goalmouth scramble. So many Scottish players get involved that when it's cleared, Serbia have a superb chance. Tosic runs past Hutton in the area and bears down on goal until Caldwell appears from nowhere to produce an immaculate tackle.
10 mins: Serbia have lunged into a few meaty early tackles, the latest is from Mijailovic on the halfway line, whipping Morrison's ankles away. No card given by the ref.
9 mins: Scotland get a promising free kick right of the area. It's whipped in towards the near post by Adam but Tosic stretches his neck muscles to concede a corner, from which nothing comes. It's been a pretty lively, even start.
7 mins: Fabulous save from McGregor! Another Manchester City player, Kolarov, flashes a devilish free kick around Scotland's pretty derisory wall and towards the bottom corner. It's definitely just sneaking in until Mcgregor pulls off a cracker of a parry. Lazovic tries to whip it back into the middle but the keeper is up on his feet to grab it swiftly.
5 mins: The ball breaks nicely from a throw-in for Naismith to race clear down the left. He only has to beat Nastasic and he's totally clear inside the box, but the new Manchester City signing blocks him at the expense of a corner, which comes to nowt.
3 mins: Industrial work and a little flash of skill from Morrison down the left before he's fouled. Scotland take the free kick short but rather waste it.
0 mins: We're off! The road to Rio begins here. With two home games to start off this campaign, Scotland will hope for a flyer. Potted team news: Huddersfield's Paul Dixon makes his debut at left-back, Gary Caldwell is in midfield, with Kenny Miller up front on his tod.
1450: The Proclaimers, inevitably, rings around Hampden Park as the players prepare to take to the pitch. The start of another two-year cycle begins here. Will it end in agony again for the Tartan Army? We won't know for some time yet, but in a tricky looking group, a good start is vital. Prepare for live commentary...
Scotland begin another attempt to qualify for a major competition for the first time since 1998 by hosting Serbia in Group A at Hampden Park.
Craig Levein, whose popularity is mixed after two and a half years in charge, has labelled this a "tough, tough match" and there's another one hot on its heels as Macedonia visit on Tuesday evening. As Levein was keen to stress in the build-up, Serbia's squad includes 16 players who will play in the Champions League this season and six in the Europa League, so they don't lack big-game experience.
Scotland, by contrast, do lack big hitters. Darren Fletcher, Scott Brown and James McArthur are all out and Huddersfield's Paul Dixon makes his debut at left-back. Gary Caldwell plays in a midfield holding role. Full line-ups are below. Live commentary is coming right up.