There were signs of encouragement for George Burley in his first game in charge of Scotland. Even without a number of first choice players, Scotland gave a creditable performance on a damp night in Glasgow against a lively Croatia. It was Kenny Miller, scoring his 11th goal for Scotland, which salvaged a draw with a fierce shot which was defected into the visitor's goal to spare new manager George Burley from a debut home defeat. The country who ended England's EURO2008 hopes looked set to claim another British scalp when Portsmouth's Nico Kranjcar claimed the opener early on before Miller ensured an encouraging start to Burley's tenure. The captain's armband was worn for the first time by Stephen McManus in the absence of Rangers Barry Ferguson, with the other half of the Old Firm well represented with Gary Caldwell, Paul Hartley and Scott Brown also playing their part. There was also a starting role for Steven Fletcher, allowing the Hibs striker to mark his 21st birthday with his first Scotland cap, but he lasted only until half-time. However, it was he who made the telling pass that allowed Scotland to equalise before half-time.
A constant downpour all day did little to help boost the crowd of just over 28,000 but it was an early opener from Croatia, rather than the weather, which threatened to put a dampener on the match. Slaven Bilic's men were not off the mark quite as quickly as Italy in the last game at Hampden, but their 10th-minute opener was a blow all the same. Luka Modric supplied the pass and Craig Gordon appeared to be caught cold in the Scotland goal as Kranjcar rifled high into the middle of the net from 25 yards. Replays showed that the ball swerved a couple of time and Gordon was committed one way when the ball went another before hitting the net. To their credit, Scotland refused to crumble after goal. Miller came off worse in a tussle with Josip Simunic and nodded over from Shaun Maloney's resultant free-kick, before restoring parity with half an hour gone. The Derby striker raced onto a long ball down the left flank from Steven Fletcher before despatching an angled drive into the back of the net despite the best efforts of Simunic to block the effort. Robert Kovac should have cleared the danger before the ball reached Miller but failed to make the interception and was punished by the striker's shot. Kranjcar had another go with a long-range shot in an attempt to restore Croatia's advantage before the interval but, this time, his efforts ended in failure with Gordon up to the task and smothering with ease. Brown was the first of six names into the referee's book for a foul on Danijel Petric before the end of the first half. But a more worrying sight was Nico Kovac's crunching tackle on the Celtic midfielder moments later, which also earned the Croatia captain a yellow card.
Brown emerged for the second half to the relief of both club and Burley, with the withdrawal of Steven Fletcher for Gavin Rae the only substitution from Scotland at half-time. In fact, it was Brown who enjoyed the first real chance after the restart, his low shot whistling narrowly past the post, before a Miller header from Maloney's corner was cleared off the line by Danijel Pranjic. At the other end, only some fine goalkeeping from Gordon prevented Scotland from falling behind again. Kranjcar's shot was flicked on by Olic but the Sunderland goalkeeper stood tall to block before Caldwell hooked to safety with Olic loitering for the rebound. Gordon then came to the rescue again with a brilliant save at the near post to deny substitute Igor Budan who charged in from the left side of the penalty area. Jay McEveley, Gary Teale, Russell Anderson, Graham Alexander and Kris Boyd all came off the bench before the end for a taste of the action, with the introduction of Boyd prompting the biggest reaction from the crowd who were still hopeful of a winner. His stray boot did catch the head of the unfortunate Vedran Corluka late on but it was not quite the knockout blow Scotland had in mind. The Rangers striker, who hit a double for his club at Hampden in the recent CIS Insurance Cup final, was then denied by an excellent save from goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa as the game ended all square.
Scotland: Gordon, Hutton, Naysmith (McEveley 62), Caldwell (Anderson 70), McManus, Darren Fletcher (Alexander 90), Hartley, Brown (Teale 66), Maloney (Boyd 72), Miller, Steven Fletcher (Rae 46)
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Berra, O'Connor
Booked: Brown, McManus, Naysmith
Goal: Miller 30
Croatia: Pletikosa, Robert Kovac (Knezevic 73), Corluka (Simic 85), Simunic, Srna (Leko 63), Nico Kovac (Vukojevic 46), Modric, Kranjcar, Pranjic, Petric (Klasnic 58), Olic (Budan 57)
Subs Not Used: Galinovic
Booked: Nico Kovac, Robert Kovac, Vukojevic, Simunic
Goal: Kranjcar 10
Ref: Terje Hauge (Norway)
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