Scotland's slim World Cup hopes lay in tatters as Belarus secured a deserved victory at Hampden Park. A lightening start to the game by Scotland almost saw a goal inside the opening 30 seconds. Kenny Miller raced into the box on the left and saw his effort blocked at the near post, before Lee McCulloch also had an effort blocked by the well organized Belarus defence. But it was Belarus who netted after only five minutes. The ball ricocheted off Christian Dailly and into the path of Vitali Kutuzov who coolly slotted past Craig Gordon. Scotland worked their way back into the game and went close after 15 minutes when Belarus defender Andrei Lavrik headed inches past his own post from McCulloch's cross. But Scotland almost fell two behind seconds later when Kutuzov broke free from the back four once again, only to fire over the bar. Scotland's poor start to the match continued as the visitors hit the woodwork after half an hour. Aleksandr Hleb sent over a corner to the back post where Kutuzov saw his fine strike come back off the bar.
Darren Fletcher tussles with Igor Tarlovsky
Walter Smith introduced Shaun Maloney at the break and the young Celtic striker went close to a debut goal after 55 minutes. Miller made good progress down the left and as the ball broke to Maloney in the box, he attempted an overhead kick but the ball was blocked by team-mate McCulloch who lay prone on the goal-line. Then minutes later, Miller should have levelled as he ran through on goal, but the Wolves man blasted over the bar. Scotland continued in vain to search for an equaliser and Steven Pressley headed agonizingly wide with 13 minutes remaining. Miller had another two chances late on, but the Belarus keeper dealt with them well as the lights went out on Scotland's world cup qualification hopes.
Scotland: Gordon, Alexander, Pressley, Weir, Murray, Fletcher, Ferguson, Dailly, Hartley, Miller, McCulloch
Subs: Esson, Gary Caldwell, Webster, McCann, Quashie, Maloney, O'Connor
Belarus: Khomutovsky, Kulchy, Korytsko, Ostrovsky, Tarlovsky, Kovba, Bulyga, Lavrik, Hleb, Kalachev, Kutuzov.
Subs: Zhevnov, Oleg Shkabara, Oleg Shkabara, Cheljadinskij, Kirilchik, Sascheko, Loshankov, Kovel.
Referee: Zsolt Szabo (Hungary)