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Finland give Scots a chilly awakening

Brazil will be delighted at result;
so will Norway and Morocco

  • Scotland 1
  • Finland 1

by Ken Gaunt

SCOTLAND are heading for the World Cup finals desperately short of firepower.
Manager Craig Brown used all his five top strikers at Easter Road last night yet they struggled to break down a side 62nd in the current FIFA rankings.
Brown fielded a weakened team but their inability to beat the Finns in this friendly hardly gives the Tartan Army hope for the June 10 clash with World Cup holders, Brazil.
He was anxious for a victory in their last World Cup warm-up game on home soil but the Scots were rocked after just 10 minutes when Finland took the lead.
Ironically for Brown the goal came after two players, who are based in Scotland, linked up.
Motherwell midfielder Simo Valakari split the defence with a ball through the middle. Colin Hendry and Matt Elliott were both unable to plug the gap and Rangers winger Jonatan Johansson raced into the hole.
He showed a cool head to strike the ball beyond keeper Jim Leighton.
Brown had been forced to shake up his side following the withdrawal through injury of keeper Andy Goram, midfielder Craig Burley and striker Eoin Jess.
But Scotland, beaten 1-0 by Denmark last month, drew level in the 16th minute through Darren Jackson.
Colin Calderwood delivered a deep cross to the back post and Christian Dailly, also lurking in a forward role, headed the ball back across the face of the goal.
The ball broke to Scott Booth whose effort nudged the post and Celtic striker Jackson tapped in from the rebound for one of the easiest goals of his career.
Finland, who were three minutes away from qualifying for the play-offs of the World Cup finals, played with a degree of confidence in the first half.
Brown rang the changes at half-time by bringing on Kevin Gallacher and David Weir for Jackson and Elliott.
Blackburn striker Gallacher had been suffering a throat infection all week but he gave Scotland greater impetus in the second half.
Scott Booth saw a shot beaten away by Rangers goalkeeper Antti Niemi three minutes after the break as Scotland began the half with a bang.
However, it took defender Tommy Boyd, who replaced Christian Dailly after 86 minutes, to set Scottish pulses racing when he almost grabbed the winner shortly after coming on with four minutes to go.
He found space on the edge of the area but dragged his shot wide of the post.
It was a frustrating night all round for Brown and the Edinburgh fans, who had waited 90 years to see Scotland return to Easter Road.
The news of Scotland’s failure to defeat Finland is bound to be greeted by smiles not only in the Brazil camp but in Norway and Morocco as well.
Finland had earlier this year struggled to draw with Cyprus and then lost to Slovakia before narrowly beating Malta.
But they were good enough to contain Scotland last night — and that must be a chilling thought for Brown.
SCOTLAND: Leighton, Elliott, Whyte, Calderwood, Hendry, Dailly, Gemmill, McKinlay, Booth, Jackson, Collins.
FINLAND: Niemi, Ylonen, Tuomela, Hyypia, Coskinen, Mahilo, Reini, Valakari, Sumiala, Litmanen, Johansson.

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