Scott Brown (55.00 mins)
James McFadden (80.00 mins)
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group Nine
, Sep 5, 2009
Ground: Hampden Park , Kickoff: 15:00 , Att 50,214
Burley bullish ahead of key clash George Burley insists the confidence he has in Scotland beating Macedonia in Saturday's do-or-die World Cup qualifier boils down to the simple belief that his side are the "better team".
The under-fire Scotland boss will arrive at Hampden knowing that unless all three points are garnered against the second-placed Macedonians, then next Wednesday's final Group Nine match against Holland at Hampden becomes meaningless - and he will almost certainly be out of a job.
Burley's side have only racked up two wins in the qualification campaign - both against Iceland - and they were beaten 1-0 in Macedonia in the opening game of the campaign.
The 4-0 thrashing by Norway in Oslo last month increased the pressure on the Scotland boss, but at the pre-match press conference in Dumbarton he claimed that second place behind winners Holland, and a possible November play-off spot, is still achievable.
Asked where his confidence came from the results in the campaign so far, Burley's reply was matter of fact.
He said: "I feel we've got a better team. But we've got to show that.
"The boys are confident, we have players in good form and we have a positive outlook.
"We know Macedonia are a good side, people say we would beat them easy but they are a good side.
"The group is competitive, Norway are no mugs and we always knew it was going to be a tight group as far as finishing second was concerned.
"But we've certainly done our homework. We have had a good week's training, the boys are raring to go and we are in positive mood to get three points." Burley paved the way for the return of Stephen McManus after Christophe Berra called off with a virus.
The Wolves defender was sent home from the squad as a precaution but is expected to be okay for Wednesday night's game with Holland.
Berra's absence leaves Burley with just three centre-halves to choose from and Celtic captain McManus, fit again after a knee injury, is set to start his first game of the season alongside veteran Rangers skipper David Weir.
Gary and Steven Caldwell are ruled out through suspension and injury respectively, while Darren Barr has won only one cap.
"Christophe has a virus and has gone home," Burley said.
"He will come back on Sunday. But we still have three fit centre-halves to chose from.
"Stephen McManus has trained all week, he is desperate to play and I have been impressed with him.
"You have to use your own eyes. You judge his fitness, how he has performed in training and what type of lad he is.
Scotland vs FYR Macedonia
Last modified 21:56 05/09/09Sunday Mirror match report by Ray Hepburn
Scotland’s World Cup wagon rolled on after Scott Brown and James McFadden set up a last-game cliff hanger against Holland on Wednesday night.
Brown and McFadden scored superb second-half goals to keep national boss George Burley in his job for at least another four days – as the unbeaten Dutch prepare to bring their brilliance to Hampden Park.
A win would guarantee second spot for Scotland – and put them in a strong position to finish as one of the eight best runners-up from nine groups, to earn a World Cup play-off ticket.
Burley, tipped to be sacked if Scotland had lost yesterday, said: “It was a great team performance, and that includes everybody – the nation, the fans, who really spurred us on.
“Trying to get to the World Cup finals is never easy – but the team did the country proud.”
It was not all good news for Burley though, as a booking for McFadden means he will be ruled out of the Holland game, and Brown had to be substituted late on after picking up a knock.
Style and flair had no place in grey Glasgow as Scotland’s World Cup qualifying hopes hung by a frayed thread before kick-off.
To that extent this was mission accomplished as they leapfrogged a very ordinary Macedonia into second place.
Under-fire Burley raised the tempo and passion of the day with one last, desperate, half-time call to arms.
His troops responded magnificently and the fears and frailties of a nervous first half that threatened the worst, was swept into memory.
Scotland lived dangerously at times but there were players who stood out, particularly Alan Hutton at right back, who rose above his club form at Tottenham. Steven Whittaker was an outstanding substitute for the luckless Callum Davidson, who pulled a hamstring early on.
As ever, Kenny Miller was the ideal workman up front and McFadden, always the maverick, scored a sensational second goal, with a brilliant solo run.
Macedonia were a surly, indisciplined side who threw their weight about and did their fair share of time wasting but Burley’s men have been around the block a few times.
Goran Pandev tested Craig Gordon early on while, at the other end, Brown spun past Goran Popov, but rifled his shot into the side netting.
Macedonia should have gone ahead after 26 minutes but Aco Stojkov astonishingly opted to turn the ball back into the box, when he could clearly see the whites of Gordon’s eyes.
Two minutes from the break Pandev again earned himself shooting space, forcing Gordon to keep out a fierce effort.
McFadden wasted a glorious chance three minutes into the second half when Darren Fletcher’s cross gave him time to dance inside Nikolce Noveski, but on to his less favoured right foot, and he skewed his shot high and wide.
Scotland finally broke through when Brown lost his marker to meet a Fletcher cross and and skillfully steer the ball into the corner .
Hampden held its breath in the 63rd minute as Pandev sped clear on the left but his clever cut-back was slashed over the bar by the unmarked Slavcho Georgievski.
Whittaker almost made certain five minutes later when he raced on to Shaun Maloney’s slick through ball but shot wide wastefully.
It was McFadden who brought the crowd to its feet – and sent Burley into a dance of joy – when he waltzed past Goce Sedloski and keeper Jane Nikoloski to roll in a magnificent second goal.
|Player rating out of ten||Player name||Substitution||Did they score?||Player's disciplinary record||Rating|
|3||Callum Davidson(sub 13)||5/10|
|6||Scott Brown(sub 72)||8/10|
|10||Steven Fletcher(sub 67)||7/10|
|13||Steven Whittaker(sub 13)||8/10|
|14||Shaun Maloney(sub 67)||7/10|
|15||Paul Hartley(sub 72)||7/10|
|Player rating out of ten||Player name||Did they score?||Player's disciplinary record||Substitution||Rating|
|17||Aco Stojkov(sub 78)||7/10|
|16||Slavco Georgievski(sub 68)||6/10|
|11||Ilco Naumoski(sub 63)||7/10|
|6||Darko Tasevski(sub 63)||6/10|
|7||Vlatko Grozdanovski(sub 68)||6/10|
|9||Besart Ibraimi(sub 78)||7/10|