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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Belarus ends Scotland's World Cup dream



(For alternate story with lots of photos, see

Belarus' Vitaly Kutuzov celebrates after scoring during the World Cup 2006 qualifying football match

GLASGOW (AFP) - Belarus all but ended Scotland's World Cup dreams at Hampden with an impressive 1-0 win.

Vitaly Kutuzov's early goal was enough to give the visitors all three points in the Group Five match and effectively end Scotland's chances of making it to the finals in Germany next summer.

Anatoli Baidachny's team could have scored more against Walter Smith's side and created the majority of chances in the match.

The Scotland manager was angry with the poor start his side made, but he denied they had underestimated Belarus.

"It was a disappointing result and a very disappointing first-half performance.

Kenny Miller (R) and Andy Webster (8) of Scotland with Vyacheslav Gleb

"We had a slight chance to score at the start but after that we weren't really involved. We improved in the second half and created some chances but it's the first-half performance which has cost us the game.

"We didn't underestimate Belarus and I always knew they were a good side.

"I said before the match we would have to win both our last two games against Belarus and Slovenia so our hopes of qualifying are now gone."

Scotland knew only a win would keep them in the hunt for second place in the group and qualification for the playoff stage however the few chances they created came to nothing.

In the first 30 seconds Kenny Miller latched on to a long ball and drove in towards goal from the left, but his shot from a tight angle was blocked by the feet of Belarus goalkeeper Vasily Khomutovsky. The ball eventually fell to Barry Ferguson but the Scottish captain blasted wildly over from 18-yards.

Then in the sixth minute the visitors stunned the 51,105 crowd at Hampden when Vitaly Bulyga's attempted pass took a wicked deflection off Christian Dailly and the ball fell into the path of Sampdoria striker Kutuzov, who made no mistake in a one-on-one with Scotland keeper Craig Gordon firing into the net from six-yards.

Kutuzov should have scored his second in the 17th minute when Arsenal's Aleksandr Hleb put him clean through on goal, but with time to pick his spot he fired high over.

Scotland's World Cup hopes were hanging by a thread and only the woodwork prevented them from going two down on the half-hour mark. Hleb's corner from the right was met by Kutuzov and his right-foot effort cannoned off the underside of the crossbar with Gordon stranded.

Belarus had dominated the first half so it was no surprise when Smith replaced Rangers defender Ian Murray with Celtic forward Shaun Maloney at the break.

And the substitute could have made a quick impact when Miller played the ball inside to him 16-yards from goal in the 52nd minute, but Maloney hesitated allowing Igor Tarlovsky to throw himself in front of the ball when the shot eventually came.

The home side appeared to be turning play around and in the 63rd minute Maloney forced a fantastic save from Khomutovsky with a free-kick from 25 yards.

But Belarus looked dangerous every time they came forward and Vladimir Korytko's 35-yard shot in the 73rd minute required Gordon to dive to his left to fist away.

Scotland's David Weir clashes with Belarus' Vitaly Kutuzov

Kutuzov fired just wide from 10-yards in the 75th minute, following a good one-two with Denis Kovba and then Bulyga hit the post when it looked easier to score after Kleb put him through on goal.

At the other end Hartley fired wide from 20-yards in the 81st minute and then Miller tried his luck with a shot on the turn but Khomutovsky gathered at the second attempt.

As the game moved into injury time Ferguson chipped a wonderful pass into the path of Miller but as he controlled the ball the Belarus keeper rushed from his line to make a brave block and clinch a deserved win for his side.

Belarus boss Baidachny was delighted with the win but he commiserated with his opposite number.

He said: "Since we played Scotland in June a lot of our players have quit international football and so the team is now 50 per cent different.

"So I'm very happy for those players as they showed their best qualities in this match.

"But I'm sorry for Walter Smith that Scotland cannot now qualify for the World Cup as he is a nice man and a good coach."


Craig Gordon, Graham Alexander, Ian Murray, (Shaun Maloney, 46), Steven Pressley, David Weir, Barry Ferguson, Darren Fletcher, Christian Dailly, Kenny Miller, Paul Hartley, Lee McCulloch.

Vasili Khomutovsky, Aleksandr Kulchy, Igor Tarlovsky, Andrey Ostrovsky, Vladimir Korytsko, Andrei Lavrik, Denis Kovba, Vitaliy Bulyga (Denis Sascheko, 88), Timofey Kalachev, Alexander Hleb, Vitaly Kutuzov.

Group 5

Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
Italy 9 6 2 1 15 7 20
Norway 9 4 3 2 11 7 15
Slovenia 9 3 3 3 10 10 12
Belarus 9 2 4 3 12 13 10
Scotland 9 2 4 3 6 7 10
Moldova 9 1 2 6 4 14 5

Sat., Oct. 8
Ukraine 2-2 Albania
Switzerland 1-1 France
Slovakia 1-0 Estonia
Scotland 0-1 Belarus
Russia 5-1 Luxembourg
Portugal 2-1 Liechtenstein
Norway 1-0 Moldova
N. Ireland 2-3 Wales
Lithuania 0-2 Serb-Mont.
Italy 1-0 Slovenia
Georgia 0-0 Kazakhstan
Finland 0-1 Romania
Denmark 1-0 Greece
Czech Rep. 0-2 Holland
Cyprus 0-1 Ireland
Bosnia-Herz. 3-0 S. Marino
Belgium 0-2 Spain
Bulgaria 2-0 Hungary
England 1-0 Austria
Israel 2-1 Faroe Isl.
Croatia 1-0 Sweden

News from the International Chess championships in Argentina

Round Nine Summary

The 2005 FIDE World Championships

Tournament leader Veselin Topalov played a Berlin Defence of the Ruy Lopez against Vishy Anand, who sacrificed a knight and forced a repetition in 17 moves. Judit Polgar had to be content with a draw against Michael Adams in a Marshall Attack. Peter Svidler played a spectacular fighting game against Rustam Kasimdzhanov, which ended in a 34-move draw. The last game to end was Morozevich vs Leko, in which the Russian continued his winning streak with a 54-move victory.

Round 9: Saturday, October 8th
Vishy Anand ½-½ Veselin Topalov
Judit Polgar ½-½ Michael Adams
Peter Svidler ½-½ R. Kasimdzhanov
A. Morozevich 1-0 Peter Leko

Current standings at the World Championship in San Luis

Veselin Topalov 7.5
Peter Svidler 5.5
Vishy Anand 5.0
A. Morozevich 5.0
Peter Leko 4.0
Kasimdzhanov 3.5
Michael Adams 3.0
Judit Polgar 2.5