Sunday, 18 November 2007

Scotland 1 v Italy 2

Well, as feared, it wasn't to be. The Italians caught us cold in first two minutes and were then able to play relaxed and controlled possession football for an hour before Barry Ferguson pounced to give Scotland parity and 25 minutes of fervour and hope before Panucci finished it.

Despite the complaints about the award of the last minute free-kick to the Italians from which they scored their winner, the Hampden crowd recognised that their team had given their all against a better side, the World Champions. The Italian team who ran to celebrate in front of their fans at the end were given a standing ovation several minutes after the finish by the Tartan Army who waiting patiently for 15 minutes to applaud their returning heroes and acknowledge what has been a fine campaign and which has brought a renewed pride and confidence to Scottish football.

The benefit of TV replays has shown that our goal was offside and that the disallowed Italian second was onside. So overall no complaints, we were beaten fairly and squarely and our team did everything they could to try and win the game. Next Sunday sees the draw in Dublin for the World Cup and we have to hope that our well-earned second pot placing sees us get a group that will be easier to qualify from.

England meanwhile look ready to claim their place in the Euro finals against-the-odds courtesy of a remarkable last minute win by Israel over Russia. Surely Croatia will not come with enough determination to win at Wembley having qualified already and after going down meekly to Macedonia on Saturday? After the great support shown to Scotland by the English media and what seems like a decent percentage of England fans, I hope my countrymen can be big enough to show less enthusiasm for wanting to see England fail on Wednesday; it's this perverse focus that stokes our national inferiority complex.

On a brighter note for me, the mighty Addicks are back in action at Preston on Saturday. We will need a dramatic improvement in our live TV form if we are to avoid defeat.

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