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Scotland draw 0-0 with ten-man Northern Ireland

SoccerNews in World Cup 20 Aug 2008

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Scotland warmed up for next month's World Cup qualifiers with a goalless draw against ten-man Northern Ireland at Hampden.

Scotland's 12-year wait for a win in a friendly match at the national stadium continues after they could not break a stubborn Northern Ireland side down.

Northern Ireland had defender Ryan McGivern sent off on his international debut for a second bookable offence in the 53rd minute.

But the Irish had the best chance to win the match when they were awarded a second-half penalty but Allan McGregor superbly saved David Healy's spot-kick.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the first half and it was more of note for the noisy Northern Irish travelling support than any action.

Northern Ireland's David Healy thought he had blown his country's first chance of the night in the seventh minute when he hit straight at Craig Gordon with only the keeper to beat but the Fulham striker had already been flagged offside.

Rangers' Kevin Thomson made his Scotland debut and had an assured first match in dark blue, linking up well with Celtic's Scott Brown in the centre of midfield.

The former Hibs duo combined for a Scotland chance in the 16th minute. After good work by Brown down the right wing the ball fell to Thomson at the edge of the box but his effort was well wide.

Manchester City's Ryan McGivern picked up a yellow card after 26 minutes for a late challenge on Brown.

Referee Nicolai Vollquartz initially allowed the play to continue following the foul and James McFadden's cross was just cleared as Kenny Miller bore down on goal.

Birmingham City player McFadden had Scotland's first shot on target in the 30th minute. He controlled a pass from Graham Alexander on the chest before beating his marker but his shot was weak and straight at club colleague Maik Taylor.

Dean Shiels replaced Martin Paterson for Northern Ireland at half-time and the Hibernian winger's cross-cum-shot was straight at Allan McGregor, who had replaced Gordon in goals.

Celtic's Barry Robson, on for Thomson, was soon involved in the action and his shot from 30 yards out was just over in the 53rd minute.

The second-half came to life in the 57 minute when McGivern's Northern Ireland debut ended prematurely with a red card.

The defender picked up his second booking for hauling back Scott Brown at the edge of the box after the midfielder had him beaten for pace.

Brown created another Scotland chance soon afterwards as his pass found McFadden in the box but he curled his shot just round the far post.

But it was Northern Ireland who should have taken the lead in the 59th minute when substitute Warren Feeney won them a penalty after being brought down in the box by keeper McGregor.

However the sinner turned saint when he pulled off a fantastic one-handed save from David Healy's spot-kick, diving low to his right and claiming the ball before there could be any follow-up.

Falkirk's Darren Barr nearly marked his Scotland debut with a goal in the 62 minute with an arrowed header from Robson's corner but Taylor gathered well at his near post.

Scotland had the best of the remaining chances with McFadden coming close with ten minutes remaining. A Robson corner was knocked on by Miller and McFadden's powerful shot on the volley was well blocked by Taylor.

Graham Alexander also saw his shot from outside the box in the 84th minute creep agonisingly past the far post.

Scotland pressed hard in the final minutes but could not find a way past Taylor and their Hampden winless streak in friendly matches continues.

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