Scotland draw a blank in their first game on the road to Rio


On seven minutes, Allan McGregor had to pull off a smart save to deny a Kolarov free kick from sneaking in at his right hand post.

With both sides pushing forward in the early exchanges, it looked as though it would be an entertaining game.

Scotland forced a number of early corners, but they failed to trouble the Serbian defence.

The Serbs were dangerous on the counter and in one such attack, it took a last ditch tackle from Gary Caldwell – earning his 50th cap – inside the box to deny Darko Lasovic.

Scotland began to open up the Serbian back line, with Norwich City midfielder Robert Snodgrass jinking his way into the box, but his shot was touched wide by Vladimir Stojkovic.

Moments later and Everton forward Steven Naismith failed to connect properly on a header from a cross by Snodgrass.

Paul Dixon, who was making his debut for Scotland, fired in a number of good crossed from the left flank and proved to the Serbs that he was not the weak link that they had pinpointed in the pre-match scouting reports.

Alan Hutton picked up the first booking of the match with a two footed tackle on Matija Nastasic – a tackle that could have easily ended up a red card offence – but the referee deemed that a yellow was enough. Much to the anger of the Serbian contingent.

Scotland could have taken the lead through Stoke City’s Charlie Adam as he tried to catch out Stojkovic from a free kick, but the keeper read Adam’s play well and saved comfortably.

Despite those early signs of an entertaining game which would see a number of goals, the game turned out to be a flat affair thereafter.

There were still chances for both sides, Kenny Miller tried to lob Stojkovic in the Serbian goal but he saw his effort land on the roof of the net before Lazovic’s low shot was easily dealt with by McGregor.

The final effort of the half came from Adam, but his long range effort failed to trouble Stojkovic.

Into the second half and both sides started the game how the first half ended – with a lack of urgency.

Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kenny Miller had another sight of goal from a Christophe Berra knock down, but he could not find the target.

McGregor was then called into action when he had to keep tabs on an Ignjovski drive which went just wide of his goals and then an effort from Kolarov which had the beating of McGregor, but agonisingly for the Serbs was the wrong side of the post.

Scotland wasted two more chances through Miller, having beaten the Serb offside trap on both occasions. Stojkovic raced out of his goals and smothered the first Miller chance, but the second Miller completely fluffed his shot and failed to connect with Morrison’s lob when he was handed a free header on a plate from six yards out.

Grumblings from the stands could be heard as the fans became impatient and wanted their new hero Jordan Rhodes on the pitch, but there was no sign of Levein making that change.

Miller’s former Rangers team mate Steven Naismith also passed up a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring as he latched onto a quickly timed pass from Gary Caldwell, but his shot was pulled wide of the far post.

Scotland continued to miss chances gifted to them, this time through Kenny Miller once again as he miscued a header.

After that, the fans chanted Jordan Rhodes’ name sending a clear message to manager Craig Levein.

Levein did make a change, but he brought on Celtic winger James Forrest for Snodgrass. But with less than ten minutes remaining, Levein made a further attacking change bringing on Jamie Mackie and Jordan Rhodes for Morrison and Miller – who were decidedly poor all day.

The changes were all too late to make any impact on the game, however Forrest did have one chance which could have won the game, however he shot straight into the arms of the Serb keeper and moments later McGregor denied Tadic from grabbing a late winner for the visitors.

Neither side should have any real complaints over the result, but the visitors would have been the happier of the two with a point. For Scotland, they have a MUST win game against Macedonia on Tuesday night, after group rivals Belgium and Croatia picked up wins against Wales and Macedonia, respectively on Friday.

One sour note in the first 45 minutes was a forearm smash by Steven Naismith on Serbian Srdan Mijailovic. Naismith could still face Macedonia tomorrow night pending the official report lodged by the match officials with FIFA. If reported then he could face an automatic ban for violent conduct.


If you had checked out my preview of the match on Friday night, you would have seen that Scotzine has entered into partnership with Ladbrokes.

Having looked back at my bets from that night – and having won nothing thanks to Levein and co. – I have to say that my heart certainly did rule over my head. I had a gut feeling that it would be a no score draw, but instead I selected a 2-1 win for Scotland and for Gary Caldwell to score the first game.

The lesson from that bet – don’t bet on any game involving Scotland with all the talk of them picking up three points. In fact I am seriously considering betting on Macedonia to win tomorrow night at 4/1.

SCOTLAND: Allan McGregor, Paul Dixon, Gary Caldwell, Christophe Berra, Andy Webster, Alan Hutton, James Morrison (Jamie Mackie, 81), Charlie Adam, Steven Naismith, Kenny Miller (Jordan Rhodes, 81), Robert Snodgrass (James Forrest, 69)

SERBIA: Vladimir Stojkovic, Branislav Ivanovic, Matija Nastasic, Milan Bisevac, Aleksandar Kolarov, Darko Lazovic (Dusan Tadic, 58), Milos Ninkovic, Srdjan Mijailovic (Lubomir Fejsa, 45), Zoran Tosic, Aleksandar Ignjovski, Filip Djuricic (Dejan Lekic, 84)

Referee: Jonas Eriksson

Venue: Hampden Park

Att: 47,369


About Author


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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