Scots left to rue~Iwelumo howler

Chris Iwelumo marked his international debut with the worst miss of his career as Scotland drew 0-0 at home to Norway in World Cup qualifying.

Last Updated: 11/10/08 at 17:28 Post Comment

Iwelumo: Shocking miss

Iwelumo: Shocking miss

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The Wolves striker came off the bench in a bid to salvage the nation's hopes at Hampden on Saturday - but will instead be forever haunted by the moment he blew Scotland's hopes of a vital victory.

With both sides regarded as the strongest challengers for the coveted runners-up spot behind favourites Holland, this was regarded as a high-stakes game where a win was essential for George Burley's men.

Having collected just four points from three games, Scotland's hopes of booking their place at South Africa in 2010 is already hanging in the balance with a daunting trip to Holland now awaiting them in March.

With Stephen McManus suspended and Kris Commons injured, Burley made two changes from the win in Iceland, with James Morrison and David Weir both drafted into the team and Darren Fletcher wearing the captain's armband as he earned his 40th cap.

Despite plenty of talk from the Scotland camp about the need for a positive approach to this game, Burley opted to deploy James McFadden on his own up front, leaving both Kris Boyd and Iwelumo on the bench.

Norway were boosted by the news that Steffen Iversen had been passed fit while goalkeeper Jon Knudsen made his international debut for the Scandinavians.

Scotland dominated the opening spell, winning a couple of corners, before Kirk Broadfoot set up Morrison for the first real chance. The West Brom midfielder tried his luck from just inside the box but the shot was weak and comfortably collected by Knudsen in the Norway goal.

The visitors had an excellent chance to open the scoring when John Carew exchanged a one-two with Iversen before racing into the box, with only a timely intervention from Gary Caldwell preventing the towering striker from claiming the opener.

Brede Hangeland then saw his downward header bounce past Craig Gordon's left post from a Fredrik Stromstad corner, although the Scotland keeper looked as though he had the header covered anyway.

Norway threatened again when Carew burst past Caldwell and unleashed an angled drive which was parried by Gordon before John Arne Riise blasted the rebound well wide of target as Hampden breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Stromstad then delivered a header to the feet of Carew in front of goal but good defending from Weir denied him a clean shot and his awkwardly struck effort was smothered by Gordon.

Scotland could have snatched the lead before the break when McFadden whipped a great ball across goal for Morrison, who nodded agonisingly over from a tight angle.

Carew had established himself as Norway's biggest threat in the first half so it was no real surprise to see the Aston Villa forward bearing down on goal shortly after the restart, his shot swiped to safety at the near post by Gordon.

With 51 minutes gone, Jon Inge Hoiland picked up the first booking of the game for hauling down Barry Robson and it proved to be a calculated risk worth taking, with Scotland failing to make anything of the free-kick.

A lack of threat up front resulted in the home nation making a double substitution 10 minutes into the second half and Morrison and McFadden were both withdrawn for the introduction of Steven Fletcher and Iwelumo.

The Wolves striker - making his first international appearance at the age of 30 - then squandered an incredible opportunity to mark his debut with a goal within minutes of being on the pitch.

Gary Naysmith was the provider with a superb ball across the face of goal from the left flank and Iwelumo somehow missed the target from a few yards with the gaping net at his mercy, stunning the national stadium into silence.

With time running out for a Scotland winner, Shaun Maloney attempted to place a swerving shot from distance into the keeper's far corner but the effort slipped past the upright instead.

A full-stretch Fletcher and Iwelumo then both failed to connect with a Broadfoot ball that was begging to be stabbed home as the match ended in stalemate.

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