SPL - Scotland win scrappy friendly in Cyprus

Fri, 11 Nov 19:55:00 2011

Scotland began the long build-up to the start of next year's World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 win friendly win over Cyprus in Larnaca.

2011 FOOTBALL Scotland Kenny Miller - 0

Craig Levein's side - who failed to make the Euro 2012 play-off matches - were never at their best, but at least managed to get out of the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium with a win.

Cardiff City striker Kenny Miller latched on to a long pass from Christophe Berra to lift the ball over the home goalkeeper Antonis Georgallides with a classy finish on 24 minutes before Queens Park Rangers forward Jamie Mackie went on a slalom run to finish with a goal of some beauty on 56 minutes.

Dimitris Christofi hammered a low shot beyond Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor on 59 minutes to give the home side a deserved consolation.

It was to be the last goal of a game that ended up descending into a turgid affair for the closing 30 minutes or so as the usual rash of changes and sloppy play detracted from the fare in a match that was watched by a paltry crowd.

Scotland are likely to play their next friendly match in March. Their World Cup qualifying section contains Serbia, Belgium, Croatia, Wales and Macedonia.

The next major date in Levein's diary is on November 23 when the dates for a series of qualifying fixtures that begin next autumn will be decided in a meeting of the countries in the section in Brussels.

He will go there in the knowledge that Scotland will need their best men available to negotiate a path to the World Cup finals in 2014. Scott Brown, Alan Hutton, Graham Dorrans and Charlie Adam all missed this match due to injury while James Forrest was omitted to play for the country's U21 side against the Netherlands in a European Championship qualifier on Monday.

Levein's men had lost their last five friendlies played outside Scotland, failing to net in each of the last four. This result at least ends that sequence.

Cyprus could have been ahead on 17 minutes when Georgios Efram clattered the bar before Sinisa Dobrasinovic struck a post from distance three minutes after Miller had netted his 16th goal in a Scotland shirt.

Scotland - who have now won all of their five matches against Cyprus - also had their moments in the first period with Mackie seeing Giorgallides claw out a shot from inside the box before James Morrison attempted a deft chip that was nudged over the bar by the Cyprus goalkeeper.

Steven Whittaker dashed into the box to play in a lovely little ball on 33 minutes, but Miller and Barry Robson could not force the ball over the line when they looked likely to net from close range.

Antonis Katsis hammered in a longer ranger that McGregor did well to hold on 74 minutes before Jordan Rhodes was rewarded for scoring 13 times in 15 games for Huddersfield when he made his Scotland debut by replacing Mackie with five minutes remaining.

Eurosport

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