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It all comes down to Spain as Scotland beat Liechtenstein

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Craig Mackail-Smith scored his first goal for Scotland to secure all three points for Scotland as they go into Tuesday’s final group game against Spain, one point ahead of the Czech Republic in second place.

From the start Scotland looked up for the game, with Craig Mackail-Smith and Steven Naismith causing trouble for the Liechtenstein back four.

On five minutes Mackail-Smith had a claim for a penalty as he tried to latch onto a Charlie Adam free kick, however Mackail-Smith tumbled to the ground after an apparent shove in the back, but the Norwegian referee waved play on.

Despite Scotland’s greater possession of play, Liechtenstein still posed a threat on the counter and Allan McGregor was called into action on 18 minutes as he tipped Beck’s shot over the bar.

Scotland came close to breaking the deadlock when Naismith got on the end of a Barry Bannan cross, however his header was comfortably saved by Liechtenstein keeper Peter Jehle. A few minutes later Naismith should have scored when he rounded Jehle, but the Rangers forward hit the side netting with his shot.

The deadlock was eventually broken on the half hour mark, when Mackail-Smith shrugged off the pressure of a Liechtenstein defender to lob a header over Jehle in the Liechtenstein goal to give Scotland a deserved lead.

Into the second half and Scotland continued to dominate possession, but struggled to create as many clear-cut chances as they had done in the first half.

Allan McGregor was tested in the closing stages of the game when he had to get low down to deny Hasler, before Naismith saw a close range header saved brilliantly by Jehle. However Scotland saw out the remaining minutes to secure all three points and leapfrog the Czech Republic into second spot, by a mere point.

After the match manager Craig Levein told BBC Scotland: “Craig was excellent and you have to bear in mind that we don’t know him that well. The supporters saw tonight that he’s somebody who wears his heart on his sleeve and tries his hardest in every single game. For him to score the winning goal on his competitive debut is great for him.

“I would imagine he will drop out if Kenny is fit for Spain, but I haven’t really thought about Tuesday night’s team because I wanted to concentrate all our efforts on this evening. We’ve done the first part of the job.”

Scotland now travel to Alicante to face World Champions Spain, hoping that a result against the World Champions will be enough for them to secure a play-off place, while hoping Lithuania get a result against the Czech Republic.

Match Information

Liechtenstein: Peter Jehle; Martin Rechsteiner, Martin Stocklasa, Thomas Beck, Mario Frick; Martin Buechel (Wolfgang Kieber 71), Rony Hanselmann (Lucas Eberle 75); Nicolas Hasler, Marco Ritzberger; Daniel Kaufmann, Michele Polverino.

Scotland: Allan McGregor; Alan Hutton, Phil Bardsley, Christophe Berra, Gary Caldwell; Charlie Adam (Don Cowie 76), Darren Fletcher, Barry Bannan (James Forrest 73), Steven Naismith; Craig Mackail-Smith, James Morrison.

Attendance: 5636
Referee: Tom Harald Hagen (Norway)

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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