Another game where so much was promised but we had to do it the hard way. Germany did their bit by scoring early and beating Iceland and Scotland did their bit by winning against Lithuania to take us into the play-offs for EURO2004. The final score was Scotland 1 Lithuania 0. Scotland did not dominate the first half and we nearly paid the price in the second. Thankfully Berti Vogts had made the tactical change of putting Darren Fletcher on the field on the 66 minute mark and he scored after just 5 minutes on the pitch. Fletcher showed perfect timing to notch his first international goal for his country and send Scotland into Monday's EURO2004 play-off draw. This was a game that could easily have ended in defeat as Scotland took stage-fright and had a couple of narrow escapes.
One in the eye for Lithuania from James McFadden
Lithuania made life difficult for Scotland as they closed the game down in midfield and packed their defence. But they also proved lively going forward. Robertas Poskus tested Robert Douglas with a long-range effort which the goalkeeper failed to hold at the first attempt. James McFadden looked the most likely to provide the spark for Scotland and he wriggled past a couple of defenders after 13 minutes but Kenny Miller could not cash in on his final pass. Scotland could not find their rhythm with the game punctuated by stoppages with both sets of players guilty of some rash challenges. Gary Naysmith and Jackie McNamara both picked up needless yellow cards as it Scotland's frustration was obvious. Scotland won a series of corners but failed to put Lithuanian goalkeeper Gintaras Stauce under serious pressure. Douglas came to Scotland's rescue eight minutes from the break when Edgaras Jankauskas set up a chance for Nerijus Barasa and his shot brought a fine reflex save from the goalkeeper. Lithuania finished the first half the stronger as Scotland were clearly toiling to stamp any authority on the game and it was difficult to see where a goal would come from.
Scotland upped the tempo at the start of the second half and Steve Crawford saw a header cleared off the line by Ignas Dedura. But Lithuania always held menace on the break and Douglas looked unconvincing as he tried to deal with a shot from Jankauskas. A great run from McFadden almost brought the breakthrough for Scotland and his cross came off the post as Scotland enjoyed their best spell of the game. But Poskus should have given the Lithuanian's the lead after Christian Dailly misjudged the ball but he could not hit the target from just ten yards. Scotland sent on Fletcher and Don Hutchison in the 64th minute in a bid to enliven the proceedings. The substitutions had the desired effect with Fletcher scoring the all-important goal with a superb volley after Naysmith had cut the ball back to the edge of the penalty area. Hutchison could have made things safe but he missed a chance to tie it up nine minutes from time when he sent his effort over from just five yards.
Miller fools a couple of Lithuanians
Scotland: Douglas, McNamara, Pressley, Dailly, Naysmith, Cameron (Fletcher 66), Ferguson, Rae, McFadden (Graham Alexander 90), Crawford, Miller (Hutchison 66)
Subs not used: Neil Alexander, Webster, Wilkie, Harper
Lithuania: Stauce, Dziaukstas, Dedura, Barasa, Regelskis (Beniusis 86), Zvirgzdauskas, Vencevicius (Maciulevicius 80), Baravicius (Cesnauskis 45), Jankauskas, Razanauskas, Poskus
Subs not used: Zutautas, Alunderis, Buitkus, Skerla
Referee: Claude Colombo (France)