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Substitute Fletcher saves Scots

Published: Saturday 11 October 2003, 23.59CET
Scotland 1-0 Lithuania A stunning strike from Darren Fletcher keeps Scottish hopes alive.
Published: Saturday 11 October 2003, 23.59CET

Substitute Fletcher saves Scots

Scotland 1-0 Lithuania A stunning strike from Darren Fletcher keeps Scottish hopes alive.

A stunning strike from young Scotland substitute Darren Fletcher lifted his side into the play-offs after a tense UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 5 encounter against Lithuania in Glasgow.

Breakthrough goal
With time running out for the Scots in front of a packed and passionate 50,343 crowd, Scotland coach Berti Vogts made a final throw of the dice. In the 66th minute, Fletcher came on for Colin Cameron and within four minutes he had grabbed the breakthrough goal on his competitive international debut.

Brilliant parry
To say Scotland had been nervy in the first 45 minutes would have been a major understatement with Lithuania having the better first-half chances. The best of these came on 36 minutes as Nerijus Barasa's 15-metre shot was brilliantly parried by Scotland goalkeeper Robert Douglas.

Off the line
Five minutes after the interval, Stevie Crawford had a header cleared off the line by Barasa after an inswinging James McFadden corner, but Douglas was soon back in action, making another fine save to stop an 18-metre shot from FC Porto striker Edgaras Jankauskas.

Double substitution
Time was beginning to run out on Scotland when Vogts made a double substitution with Fletcher and Don Hutchison coming on. Within four minutes, Naysmith got to the by-line and his cross deflected off a defender into Fletcher's path. The Manchester United FC youngster hit his right-footed shot perfectly from 18 metres.

Late chance
Hutchison had a chance to add to Scotland's lead as he fired just over the bar from close range from another Crawford cross and there was relief all around Hampden Park as the final whistle blew to confirm their place in the play-offs, following Iceland's 3-0 defeat at group winners Germany.

'We struggled'
Vogts was relieved to still have a chance of reaching next year's finals in Portugal, saying: "We struggled in the first half and my players felt the pressure. You have to give credit to Lithuania for making life difficult for us. I had every faith in Darren Fletcher and I am pleased for him and our other young players."

Liubinskas gracious
His opposite number, Lithuiania's Algimantas Liubinskas, was gracious in defeat, and gave credit to Scotland. "I felt we performed well against Scotland today," he said. "However in the second half they had an edge and over the whole campaign they deserved a place in the play-offs."

Last updated: 12/10/03 1.00CET