Scotland stuttered to another grim result in Group Five which piles more pressure on under-fire coach Berti Vogts. His team played second fiddle for much of this tie in Chisinau against a side ranked just 113 in the world and were fortunate to escape with a point. With just two points from three games, Scotland's hopes of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup finals are already hanging by a thread. Scotland were without the suspended James McFadden and Paul Dickov and Steve Thompson and Steve Crawford formed the front pairing. Vogts also included Stephen Caldwell in the starting line-up alongside his brother Gary - the first brothers to represent Scotland together since 1946. Vogts had to take his seat in the crowd alongside the Tartan Army after being banned from the dug-out.
On a freezing night on a poor pitch, it was always going to be a fraught night for Scotland and so it turned out. Crawford went close early on after Thompson flicked the ball into his path but he pulled his angled shot narrowly over the top. Barry Ferguson then shot inches wide of the post from 18 yards after the Moldovans failed to clear a Darren Fletcher corner. But the home side always threatened on the break and took the lead after 28 minutes. Gary Caldwell allowed Sergei Dadu too much space in the area and he turned to slam a left-foot shot past Craig Gordon.
Scotland equalised three minutes later when a Fletcher cross broke to Thompson and he had time to control the ball before scoring with a low right-foot shot. It was a nervy match for Scotland with the defence looking uncertain at times. Six minutes before the break, Moldova had another opportunity in a crowded area but Dadu could not get the final shot in. In first-half injury-time, there was another scare for Scotland after Andy Webster swiped the ball up in the air and he was fortunate Stephen Caldwell was on hand to help him out before Dadu could cash in.
Danger-man Dadu came close again in the opening minute of the second half with a fierce left-foot shot that Gordon did well to divert for a corner. Then a slip from Gary Caldwell gave Serghei Covalciuc a look at goal and his 25-yard effort was not far away. The Moldovans looked increasingly dangerous as the match wore on against a Scotland defence that was hardly convincing. Colin Cameron had Scotland's first shot on target in the second half after 69 minutes but it was easily dealt with by Eugen Hmaruc. Dadu had a free header after more shambolic defensive play but put his effort over from ten yards. Sergei Rogaciov also had a great chance with seven minutes left but shot across the face of goal.
Moldova: Hmaruc, Savinov, Lascencov, Olexici (Cebotari 39), Catinsus, Priganiuc, Covalciuc, Ivanov, Rogaciov (Miterev 85), Bursuc, Dadu.
Subs Not Used: Melenciuc, Andriuta, Golban, Epureanu, Corneencov
Goals: Dadu 28
Scotland: Gordon, Gary Caldwell, Stephen Caldwell, Webster, Naysmith (Murray 46), Fletcher (Miller 66), Holt, Ferguson, Cameron, Thompson (McCulloch 85), Crawford
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Severin, Hughes, Murty
Goals: Thompson 31
Referee: Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland)