Scotland 3 - 1 Australia: Jordan Rhodes scores on debut as Scots ease to win
CRAIG Levein celebrated some golden moments at Easter Road last night following a frustrating few days.
Scorers: Scotland - Rhodes (29), Davidson (og, 62), McCormack (76); Australia - Bresciano (19)
Bookings: Australia - Kruse
Ian Black came on with three minutes left and was jeered for his efforts. However, it was Jordan Rhodes who caught the eye against Australia as Scotland recovered from the loss of an early goal to construct a promising platform on which to build prior to the start of the World Cup qualifiers next month.
Rhodes helped spark the Scotland comeback on a sodden night in Edinburgh with a fine headed finish after 28 minutes. Levein had complained that the striker’s full Scotland debut had been overlooked due to the controversy surrounding Black’s call-up. But Rhodes succeeded in taking most of the attention away from the Rangers midfielder by producing a performance which suggested he could prove a valuable asset in the forthcoming qualifying campaign.
An own goal from Jason Davidson saw Scotland gain the lead for the first time after 59 minutes and then Ross McCoarmack made it an excellent night’s work for the home side with a strike 17 minutes from time.
Australia might have scored the goal of the evening through Mark Bresciano, who struck with a half-volley from outside the box, but they were well beaten in the end.
Rhodes looked far from cowed on the occasion of his first international start and 22-year-old might have scored after just three minutes but could not quite bring Alan Hutton’s cross from the right under control. A minute later he threw himself at a centre from the same player but narrowly failed to connect. The link-up between this particular pair looked like reaping a dividend. When Rhodes headed past a post from another Hutton again cross from the right it seemed only a matter of time before something tangible would stem from this avenue of attack.
Scotland, though, were quickly undone. Panic spread after David Cairney’s quick throw-in. The home side suffered a lapse in concentration and failed to spot a quick run down the left flank from Robbie Cruse. Although he had started his run beyond the last defender he could not of course be flagged for off-side.
Nevertheless, Scotland looked to have been handed a let-off when Alex Brosque’s shot, from Cruse’s cut-back, was prevented from crossing the line by the arm of Danny Fox. The left-back had been well positioned to clear but could not avoid handling. Remarkably, referee Tom Harald Hagen waved away Australia’s appeals for a penalty.
Australia, though, had reason to feel aggrieved, not that the fury lingered long. They struck the opener from the resultant corner after Christophe Berra’s clearing header. Bresciano watched the ball all the way on to his right foot and then hit it with perfection on the half-volley. The ball curled into the corner of Allan McGregor’s net. The keeper had made a game-enough attempt to save. Indeed, his effort was overly strenuous and he injured his back in the process. Scotland were soon both a goal and a goalkeeper down.
Although primed to make his debut last night Matt Gilks had not anticipated the call coming before half-time. However, after only 21 minutes he was striding on to the park while pulling his gloves on. A difficult week for Levein then grew rather worse as James Morrison signalled his inability to continue, with Shaun Maloney sent on as a replacement.
Two minutes later Levein was granted some comfort. Although only 28 minutes into his first start for Scotland, the goal scored by Rhodes seemed almost overdue. Fox whipped in a cross from the left and Rhodes managed to re-position his body in order to flash a header into the far corner of the net. It was the ultimate marksman’s strike.
The striker might have had a second six minutes before half-time but Charlie Adam’s pass through had been hit with just a little too much strength. The ball evaded Rhodes and was gratefully accepted by Mark Schwarzer in the visitors’ goal.
Australia looked to respond to Scotland’s recovery by sending on Scott McDonald at half-time. The former Celtic striker spoke earlier in the week of it being written in the stars that he might score at Easter Road. But while it was an Australian with Scottish connections who scored the next goal, it was not something which was welcomed by the visitors. Like McDonald, Davidson was a second-half replacement.
Unlike the striker who has made 26 appearances for the Socceroos, this was Davidson’s debut. It was always going to be a notable one. Only twice previously has a father/son combination represented Australia. Allan Davidson played against Scotland in the World Cup qualifying play-off in 1985 and he earned 79 caps in total.
Here his son experienced a desolate moment as he headed beyond his goalkeeper to hand Scotland the lead after 59 minutes. Fox again was the source of the goal, however, and the left-back had to be applauded for another dangerous cross. Davidson had not looked under particular pressure, however.
The next biggest cheer of the night came when Rhodes took his leave after 64 minutes, to be replaced by Ross McCormack. The striker has had his problems with Levein but took advantage of his 26 minute cameo to prove a point. His goal, after 73 minutes, arrived after he cut in from the left before beating Schwarzer from the edge of the box with a shot back across the keeper’s body.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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