James McFadden, watched by his Everton manager Davie Moyes, was the hero once again as Scotland took another step closer to defying all the odds and booking their place at EURO2008. Kenny Miller and Lee McCulloch bagged goals in 3 and 9 minutes respectively against Ukraine before Andriy Shevchenko hauled the visitors back into the game and threw the outcome into doubt for the Group B leaders. It was left to McFadden - whose strike sealed a famous victory in France last month - to secure another crucial victory as Alex McLeish's men edge ever closer to next summer's finals. The 3-1 win also ended Oleg Blokhin's faint hopes of guiding Ukraine to Austria and Switzerland. Scotland succumbed to a 2-0 defeat on a dark and dreary night in Kiev 12 months ago but this time around optimism radiated from the 51,336 crowd. The crowd included what appeared to be an outing of SPL managers with Mark McGhee, Davie Irons, Craig Brewster joining Maurice Malpas and fellow Dundee United old boy Paul Sturruck in the crowd. Tickets were at a premium for the game, so much so that Rod Stewart and his mini entourage had to make do with mingling with the fans in cheap seats in front of the press box (Archie McPherson was just sitting a couple of seats along from me honest).
Archie's jacket borrowed from old chum Arthur Montford
The final strains John Gordon Sinclair's rendition of 'I Have a Dream' were still echoing around a packed Hampden when Scotland set about making the dream a reality. A hamstring injury meant Miller had celebrated the now famous win over France in a pub in Birmingham surrounded by jubilant members of the Tartan Army. This time, he made sure he was in the thick of the action. In the 3rd minutes, an Andriy Nesmachniy challenge on Scott Brown earned the Ukraine defender a yellow card and the home side a free-kick in a dangerous area. McFadden whipped a tantalising ball into the box from the right flank and Miller did well to squeeze between two yellow shirts and nod home from inside the six-yard box. Ukraine attempted to hit back through Oleg Gusev, who embarked on a mazy run into the area before unleashing a shot which dipped just over the crossbar and drew gasps of relief from the home crowd. Scotland managed to weather the Ukrainian squall that had started just after the first goal. They then got the crowd going mental again when they doubled their advantage in the 10th minute.
McLeish directs Hutton
A free-kick was awarded about 25 yards out after an awkward tackle on Miller. As McFadden and Barry Ferguson stood over the ball you could sense a training pitch ploy about to be played out. The two played the ball between themselves before skipper Ferguson hooked the ball into the path of Rangers club-mate McCulloch, who was on his own on the left edge of the penalty area. The former Wigan man left goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy flapping as he sent a delicious curling right-footed shot into the far top corner. Shevchenko then followed Nesmachniy into the referee's book for hacking down Brown, before pulling a goal back for Ukraine in the 24th minute. Nesmachniy caused havoc by punting into the Scotland box, Andriy Vorobei flicked on to Shevchenko and the Chelsea man gratefully rifled into the roof of the net. Scotland could have restored their two-goal lead 10 minutes before the break had Dutch referee Pieter Vink pointed to the penalty spot. Alan Hutton was tripped by Vorobei in almost exactly the same spot where Saulius Mikoliunas earned his now infamous penalty for Lithuania but there was to be no award this time. Seconds later Vorobei was cautioned for another foul on the Rangers full-back but the yellow card was scant consolation for the seething home supporters. There were then another two penalty claims - one for each side - before half-time. Shevchenko went to ground under pressure from Gary Naysmith, before McFadden looked to be tripped by Anatoliy Tymoschuk. Neither plea appeared to be as genuine as Hutton's but McCulloch's complaints earned him a costly booking which rules him out of Wednesday's qualifier in Georgia. Ferguson also went into the book. McFadden and Miller were shepherded away from the officials at half-time by Roy Atiken to prevent further unnecessary bookings.
McFadden eases Scotland's worries
Ukraine attempted to maintain the pressure in the second half and Andriy Voronin could have equalised with a vicious 25-yard volley which fizzed inches wide of target just a few minutes after the restart. The experienced Christian Dailly - making his first appearance since the friendly in Austria back in May - was then brought into the action in place of McCulloch after an hour, before a Miller snatched shot trundled wide. Instead, it was McFadden who once again sealed a memorable win for Scotland. After a typical driving run, Hutton was the provider with a cross from the right to the feet of the Everton striker who lashed home from just inside the area with 22 minutes remaining. Brown limped out of the action clutching his hamstring, before Garry O'Connor's yellow card ruled him out of the next game, meaning further selection problems for McLeish with the Georgia clash looming large in four days time.
A nice final view
Scotland: Gordon, Hutton, Weir, McManus, Naysmith, Brown (Maloney 76), Ferguson, Pearson, McCulloch (Dailly 60), McFadden (O'Connor 80), Miller
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Robson, Boyd, Alexander
Booked: Ferguson, McCulloch, Miller, O'Connor
Goals: Miller 4, McCulloch 10, McFadden 68
Ukraine: Shovkovskiy, Nesmachniy, Yezerskiy, Chygrynskyy, Kucher, Gusev (Rotan 46), Tymoschuk (Shelayev 73), Gladkiy, Vorobey (Nazarenko 62), Shevchenko, Voronin.
Subs Not Used: Pyatov, Milevskiy, Gay, Grytsay
Booked: Nesmachniy, Shevchenko, Vorobey, Rotan
Goals: Shevchenko 24
Ref: Pieter Vink (Netherlands)