Italian substitute Fabio Grosso denied Scotland a famous victory at Hampden Park and kept his nation in control of World Cup qualifying Group Five. An early goal from Kenny Miller had given Scotland hope of an upset but the home side ended up hanging on the ropes in the closing stages after Grosso equalised. Scotland manager Walter Smith took a cautious approach with only Miller up front and five players strung across the midfield.
Early hero, Craig Gordon
It was a nervous start by the Scots and Craig Gordon had to come to their aid inside the first minute to block a shot from Cristian Zaccardo. Christian Vieri was next to test out the Hearts' goalkeeper with a 20-yard strike but Gordon was down swiftly to block. Having weathered the early storm, Scotland took a shock lead after 13 minutes with a beautifully-crafted goal. Paul Hartley swung over a tempting cross from the right and Miller timed his run to perfection to nod the ball low into the net. Scotland worked hard to close down the Italians in midfield but had to ride their luck at times with Francesco Totti pulling the strings impressively. Vincenzo Iaquinta could not keep his header down after 37 minutes when he had an opportunity at the back post. Italy had a strong case for a penalty shortly before half-time after a clumsy challenge from David Weir on Vieri, but moments later Darren Fletcher was caught in the Italian area by Daniele De Rossi but Slovakian referee Michel Lubos was unimpressed with either claim. Weir made a fine block to deny Vieri on the stroke of half-time after a superb pass from Totti had created the opening.
No quarter asked or given between Quashie and de Rossi
Italy dominated the possession and Totti pulled a shot narrowly wide early in the second half. Christian Dailly picked up a booking early in the second half which rules him out of the midweek game against Norway in Oslo. Miller had a chance in a rare second-half raid from Scotland but was hustled out of possession by Alessandro Nesta at the vital time. There was a major let-off for Scotland after 64 minutes when Graham Alexander lost possession to Totti at the edge of his own area. Totti played the perfect pass for Vieri who somehow scooped his shot over the top with only Gordon to beat. But the luck ran out 15 minutes from time when Grosso volleyed in at the back post after Gordon had pulled off a stunning one-handed save to keep out a misdirected header from Fletcher following a corner.
Quite a contest between Kenny Miller and Nesta
Scotland: Gordon, Alexander, Dailly, Webster, McNamara, Weir, Ferguson, Fletcher, Quashie, Hartley, Miller
Sub: Douglas, Caldwell, O'Neil, McCann, Murray, Beattie, McFadden
Italy: Peruzzi, Cannavaro, Zaccardo, Zambrotta, Nesta, De Rossi, Gattuso, Pirlo, Totti, Vieri, Iaquinta
Subs:De Sanctis, Grosso, Materazzi, Camoranesi, Barone, Del Piero, Toni