Sorry Scots held in Moldova
By Richard Jolly. Last Updated: 13/10/04 4:56pm
They thought it was Moldova and, for Berti Vogts, it may soon be as Scotland rode their luck and needed a Steven Thompson equaliser to take a point in Chisinau in a 1-1 draw.
Beaten by Norway on Saturday, Vogts's Scotland trailed for three minutes after Sergei Dadu beat Craig Gordon on 28 minutes and held on in a second half dominated by the Moldovans.
Despite Thompson's third international goal, Vogts, a 1974 World Cup winner, is almost certain to have a watching brief for the 2006 tournament in his homeland.
And the German's unconvincing reign appeared in its last rites when Dadu poked Moldova ahead, evading Gary Caldwell's ineffectual challenge all too easily when Serghei Rogaciov flicked on Ghenadie Olexici's cross.
Thompson spared Vogts further humiliation when, left unmarked three minutes later, he shot through Evgheni Hmaruc's legs. Stevie Crawford's bright backheel had given the otherwise subdued Darren Fletcher a chance to cross.
So McBerti may limp on, though a return of two points and a solitary goal from three games leaves his side fifth in Group Five with only mediocre Moldova behind sorry Scotland.
Vogts, banned from the bench for his dismissal against Norway, oddly opted to sit among the Tartan Army, another decision to rank in the tartan barmy category. It meant he was in the ideal position to hear his supporters' boos after the end of a dismal 90 minutes.
Despite comfortably predicting victory, Vogts sent his team out cautiously, even though Moldova were troubled by Thompson's strength and Crawford's pace, and only the introduction of Kenny Miller with 25 minutes remaining hinted at a more attacking approach.
It was all the more confusing given the chaos in his own depleted defence. Big Dadu, a one-man strikeforce for the Moldovan minnows, was a constant threat for a back four lacking communication, despite including the first pair of siblings to play together for Scotland since 1946. They would have been better off with the Chuckle brothers than the Caldwells, however.
Before Gary's error, Scotland had enjoyed their best spell of the game. Crawford outpaced the ponderous Serghei Lascencov to shoot wide, captain Barry Ferguson drilled past the post after a corner and the Scots had an optimistic penalty appeal rejected.
Then came the quickfire exchange of goals. It should have provided a platform for Scotland to go on and win the game, but Vogts' side only had a shaky footing in it.
In a dilapidated stadium, the bumpy pitch threatened to be a leveller, though exactly which team was brought down to a lower standard is a moot point. Moldova showed the greater ambition, and almost scored either side of half-time.
The latter came courtesy of a van Bastenesque volley from Dadu. The powerful striker's last taste of Scotland came when Alex Rae stamped on him in a Champions League qualifier; his response could have been more emphatic as he headed over and put a free kick too close to Gordon.
Rogaciov's angled drive across goal was the closest Moldova came to a winner while all Scotland had to show for a second half of aimless hoofing was a tame Crawford shot. With better service, he or Thompson might have won the game for Scotland; with typical clarity of thought, Vogts substituted both.
Click here for Moldova v Scotland player ratings
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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Wed 13th Oct - Group B
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Ukraine2 - 0Georgia
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