Share

Scotland held by Lithuania, world ranked 117, at Hampden

Scotland celebrate James McArthur's equaliser

Scotland were relieved to get a point after James McArthur’s equaliser

Substitute James McArthur’s late header salvaged a draw against Lithuania to avoid a potentially major blow to Scotland’s World Cup qualifying hopes.

Grant Hanley and Callum Paterson went close with first-half headers while Robert Snodgrass and Chris Martin also had chances before Lithuania struck.

Fedor Cernych finished a slick move in the 58th minute with a powerful right-foot strike into the bottom corner.

But McArthur headed home home Hanley’s flick-on to avoid a humiliating defeat.

Lack of urgency

Scotland, ranked 44th in the world, were second-best for a worryingly long time in the opening half. It wasn’t that Lithuania – ranked 117 – were causing trouble, but they were more organised, more aggressive and they hustled and harried Scotland into an error-prone beginning.

Chris Martin had the Scots’ one half-decent chance when volleying wide at the back post. There was hard-running from Oliver Burke as well.

<!–

Chris Martin steered a left-foot volley wide when off balance in the first half

None of this unsettled Lithuania unduly. Scotland were flat. Little or nothing was seen from Robert Snodgrass and Matt Ritchie, Darren Fletcher and Barry Bannan.

Sky falls in

Strachan withdrew his injured captain, Fletcher, at the break and brought on James McArthur.

Within two minutes Scotland had their first almighty scare when Arvydas Novikovas shot on the turn and forced a save from David Marshall.

That was the warning. Briefly, Scotland rallied. Andrew Robertson got himself into dangerous areas going forward and started to make things happen. Snodgrass had a goal-bound shot blocked down. Martin, from a Robertson cross, flashed a header just wide.

Just when you thought that Scotland were beginning to scale the mountain, they fell off.

<!–

Fedor Cernych’s strike for Lithuania appeared to have dealt a fatal blow to Scotland’s hopes

Lithuania’s goal was a delight, a clever and cutting move the like of which Scotland were incapable of.

It was all about the interplay between Cernych and Vykintas Slivka. They sliced Scotland open, Slivka putting Cernych through on Marshall. He kept his cool and lashed it home.

Hampden horrors

Hampden quickly became an angst-ridden place; angry and nervous. Before the goal, James Forrest had come on for Oliver Burke – that was a puzzler, Burke was doing fine – and the Celtic man wasted a great chance after more fine work from Robertson.

This was stark now for Scotland. A win was a must if they were to harbour legitimate hopes of qualification. A draw would have been a desperate blow. A loss? It was the stuff of nightmares. Very few people thought it was a possible scenario.

The torture continued. Slapstick in the Scotland defence allowed Cernych in again. To all of Hampden it looked like he would score. As Hampden sat in dread, Cernych pulled it wide.

<!–

Leigh Griffiths might have equalised but sent his header straight at the Lithuania keeper

On went the misery. Leigh Griffiths came on for Ritchie and with 11 minutes left, Robertson delivered a cross on a plate to the Celtic striker. Point-blank range, free header, Griffiths directed it straight at Ernestas Setkus in the Lithuania goal.

Hampden had almost given up all hope of an equaliser when Callum Paterson flung in a long throw for Hanley to flick on to McArthur who headed home.

Lithuania then broke clear in numbers but butchered their big chance. Scotland responded and deep in added time, only a Lithuania header off the line denied them victory.

Frenetic, frustrating and a profound failure. After two games, Scotland’s qualification hopes are already hanging by a thread as they head to Slovakia on Tuesday.

Live Text

Match ends, Scotland 1, Lithuania 1.

Second Half ends, Scotland 1, Lithuania 1.

Foul by Chris Martin (Scotland).

Karolis Chvedukas (Lithuania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Mantas Kuklys.

Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Vykintas Slivka.

Andrew Robertson (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Arvydas Novikovas (Lithuania).

James McArthur (Scotland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by James McArthur (Scotland).

Vykintas Slivka (Lithuania) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt blocked. Russell Martin (Scotland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by James McArthur.

Attempt missed. Vykintas Slivka (Lithuania) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

Grant Hanley (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Mindaugas Grigaravicius (Lithuania).

Goal! Scotland 1, Lithuania 1. James McArthur (Scotland) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Grant Hanley.

Attempt missed. Grant Hanley (Scotland) header from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Callum Paterson.

Offside, Lithuania. Ernestas Setkus tries a through ball, but Arvydas Novikovas is caught offside.

Foul by Leigh Griffiths (Scotland).

Edvinas Girdvainis (Lithuania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Leigh Griffiths (Scotland).

Ernestas Setkus (Lithuania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Georgas Freidgeimas.

Grant Hanley (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Mindaugas Grigaravicius (Lithuania).

Substitution, Lithuania. Mindaugas Grigaravicius replaces Nerijus Valskis.

Attempt missed. Robert Snodgrass (Scotland) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Barry Bannan with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Egidijus Vaitkunas.

Foul by Chris Martin (Scotland).

Georgas Freidgeimas (Lithuania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Vykintas Slivka (Lithuania) because of an injury.

Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Scotland) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass with a cross.

Foul by Callum Paterson (Scotland).

Egidijus Vaitkunas (Lithuania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Robert Snodgrass (Scotland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Karolis Chvedukas (Lithuania).

Foul by Grant Hanley (Scotland).

Nerijus Valskis (Lithuania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

James McArthur (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.