Scotland took a giant step towards qualifying for EURO2008 with an amazing 1-0 win over France in the Parc des Princes. After surviving a first-half of almost total French domination, lone striker James McFadden scored a glorious 30-yard drive in the 63rd minute to give Scotland all three points. Alex McLeish's side are top of Group B having taken six points from the French and with two of their last three games at Hampden. Italy moved in to second place with a win in Ukraine but the night belonged to the Scots, who caused a massive shock in Paris - and one which looked so unlikely for most of the match. With only McFadden in attack, and Paul Hartley protecting the back four, it promised to be a difficult night for McLeish's men - and that is exactly how the first half panned out.
As expected, the French soon took control, the Scots struggling to get out of their own half with any real conviction. The visitors had a couple of early warnings, Stephen McManus doing well to clear a couple of crosses into the box, first from Florent Malouda on the left and then from Franck Ribery, who fired in low from the right.
In the 15th minute, as the pressure on the Scottish defence continued, David Trezeguet swivelled on a Claude Makelele pass but his left-footed effort from 14 yards went wide of the target. Soon after, Malouda had a low drive from distance saved quite comfortably by Craig Gordon. Scotland then won a couple of corners in quick succession thanks to McFadden but France goalkeeper Mickael Landreau was untroubled. The French, strong if lacking in real flair, soon regained the ascendancy and a cut-back from left-back Eric Abidal, after playing a one-two with Malouda, caused a moment of panic. In the 22nd minute France skipper Patrick Vieira was booked for a foul on Darren Fletcher in the centre circle. Fletcher was then shown a yellow card moments later for a foul on Malouda, ruling him out of the Ukraine game in October. It was not a good night for Fletcher as in the 26th minute Stephen Pearson replaced him as he injured himself in the tackle on the Chelsea midfielder. Just after the half mark Ribery's goalbound drive from the edge of the box deflected off Alexander but Makelele's corner was easily gathered by Gordon. Towards the end of the half Scotland enjoyed a brief spell of possession but could not make any impact on the French goal although McFadden drew a save from Landreau after good work on the byline.
There were no changes to the Scotland side when referee Konrad Plautz blew to restart the game and within two minutes Ribery had fired in another effort, but again the Bayern Munich player's effort was wide. Despite their domination, the French were almost as impotent as Scotland, especially with regards their final ball in to Gordon's penalty area. But in the 55th minute Anelka presented Ribery with the best chance of the game with a clever dink just inside the visitors Scotland penalty area.
Ribery's left-footed strike from 12 yards was parried by Gordon and the France midfielder blasted the rebound high over the bar. Seconds later the Sunderland goalkeeper pulled off another great save, tipping Anelka's shot from 12 yards over the bar, the Scots again surviving the resultant corner. Suddenly the tempo had lifted and Hartley was then rightly booked for scything down Ribery on the touchline. Then in the 63rd minute Scotland turned the game on its head. The ball was lofted to McFadden at least 30 yards from goal and, out of the blue, the Everton striker brought it under control before drove a glorious shot in the top corner. The Parc des Princes was stunned - apart from the section housing the Tartan Army. The French supporters could hardly take in the scoreline as their favourites pounded the Scottish penalty area in search of the equaliser.
The Scots fans dared to look for another goal, although the drained McFadden made way for Garry O'Connor with 15 minutes left. The tension during the final moments was almost unbearable for the travelling hordes but somehow Scotland held on to start a massive party in Paris. What a way to start a hangover!
France: Landreau, Lassana Diarra, Thuram, Escude, Abidal (Benzema 77), Ribery, Vieira (Nasri 69), Makelele, Malouda, Trezeguet, Anelka
Subs Not Used: Frey, Evra, Toulalan, Clerc, Mexes
Booked: Vieira, Nasri.
Scotland: Gordon, Hutton, McManus, Weir, Alexander, McCulloch, Ferguson, Fletcher (Pearson 26), Brown, Hartley, McFadden (O'Connor 76)
Subs Not Used: McGregor, McEveley, Caldwell, Boyd, Maloney
Booked: Fletcher, Hartley
Goal: McFadden 64
Ref: Konrad Plautz (Austria)