A goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time from Stephen McManus saved Scotland’s blushes as they struggled to a 2-1 Euro 2012 qualifier win over lowly Liechtenstein at Hampden here on Tuesday.
Liechtenstein, with a population less than the crowd packed into the national stadium, stunned their hosts when they took the lead 60 seconds after the break through captain Mario Flick.
Kenny Miller ended a 12-game goal-drought for the national side when he fired Scotland level in this Group I fixture with a superb volley in the 63rd minute.
With Scotland heading towards their most embarrassing result ever it was Middlesbrough’s McManus who appeared at the back post to send a header past Peter Jehle deep into injury time, much to the angry of the Liechtenstein contingent.
“They show five minutes of additional time on the board and actually seven extra minutes were played. I can live with maybe half a minute more but not as it was,” Liechtenstein manager Hans-Peter Zaugg said.
“We as such a small nation, as such minnows, played a fantastic game here.” Craig Levein was relieved with the win over a side that sits 100 places below them in the world rankings.
“Obviously I’m a very happy man. The facts and the stats will show that we are top of the group with four points and that for me is the most important thing,” the Scotland boss said.
“The criticism will be, and I can understand it, levelled at our performance but I’d like to make a point of complimenting Liechtenstein on the way they played.”
At Hampden Levein made three changes to the side that drew with Lithuania.
Scotland made a bright start and were presented with their first chance when Alan Hutton was fouled on the right wing, earning Liechtenstein’s Franz Burgmeier a yellow card.
James McFadden whipped in the resultant free-kick which was met by Lee McCulloch but he bulleted his header over.
Darren Fletcher, who was winning his 50th cap, sent a ball over the top from the half-way line which evaded the Liechtenstein defence but had too much pace for Miller.
Scotland didn’t have it all their own way and Burgmeier carved out a chance for the minnows when he teed up Michele Polverino but his low drive from 25 yards went well wide.
Miller showed great skill to beat two defenders on the right wing before picking out his strike partner at the far post but Yves Oehri did enough to put Boyd off his header.
Frustrations began to show for Scotland and it was Liechtenstein who had the first shot on target in the 43rd minute when Sandro Wieser sent his effort from the edge of the box straight into the arms of Allan McGregor.
Scotland brought on James Morrison for McFadden at the break but disaster struck within 60 seconds of the restart when lowly Liechtenstein took the lead.
Captain Flick controlled David Hasler’s cross in the box before bending a shot from 12 yards into the top left-hand corner of the net past the outstretched hand of McGregor.
A stunned Scotland soon had to make a change as Barry Robson replaced the injured Lee Wallace.
The hosts’ first shot on target fell to captain Fletcher and his fierce side-footed half-volley drew a superb save from Jehle.
Scotland hauled themselves level with a superb strike from Miller in the 63rd minute.
Robson’s cross from the left was only cleared as far as the Rangers striker who smashed an angled volley in the top right-hand corner. With the game deep in injury time McManus rose to meet Robson’s corner and the defender sent his header past the despairing Jehle to seal the last gasp win for the Scots.
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