Scotland 1-0 Lithuania

By Colin MoffatBBC Scotland

Scotland recovered from a penalty miss to edge out Lithuania at Hampden and keep alive their slim hopes of reaching the Euro 2012 play-offs.

Darren Fletcher was the spot-kick culprit, his effort saved at the end of a first half dominated by the Scots.

But Steven Naismith connected with a Barry Bannan delivery to shoot Craig Levein's side in front on 50 minutes.

Despite a nervous finale, Scotland held on to move two points behind second-placed Czech Republic in Group I.

Scotland's remaining matches are away from home against Liechtenstein and section winners Spain next month, while the Czechs are at home to the world champions and end the campaign with a trip to Lithuania, who are now out of the running.

Bannan, making his first competitive start, was prominent throughout and Scotland almost scored from the Aston Villa midfielder's corner kick, with Phil Bardsley's miscued header falling to the feet of Christophe Berra at the back post.

However, the Wolves defender had to react quickly and could only slash the ball wide from close range.

Soon after, David Goodwillie managed to prod the ball in the direction of Don Cowie but the Cardiff man smashed his first-time effort over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.

Bannan shot over from distance before a great delivery from Cowie was acrobatically cut out by defender Marius Zaliukas before it could reach Goodwillie in front of goal.

Naismith made a mess of an attempted volley from a promising position and the Rangers forward later got himself between two defenders but could not steer his header beyond keeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas.

Stephen Crainey heads clear in the closing stages at Hampden
Scotland survived a few late scares to see off Lithuania at Hampden

With Lithuania continuing to sit deep, Fletcher did well to cut inside an opponent but could not beat the goalkeeper with a rising shot at the near post.

Naismith headed over a great chance from six yards when he connected with a Bannan corner, while Bardsley saw a shot skid wide and James Morrison had an effort from distance pushed away by Karcemarskas.

There was a huge let-off for Scotland when Darvydas Sernas wasted a three-on-one attack for the visitors and that was soon followed by the gift of a penalty.

Tadas Labukas inexplicably punched away Bannan's free-kick but the Tartan Army were left groaning as Fletcher's tame spot-kick was easily saved a minute before the interval.

Lithuania were more adventurous at the start of the second half and Scotland profited from the reduced number of yellow shirts in defence to score.

Goodwillie slipped the ball to Bannan on the right edge of the penalty box and the diminutive midfielder lofted a pass in for the stretching Naismith to steer home.

There was an awkward moment for Allan McGregor when a shot from Arvydas Novikovas took a deflection, forcing the Scotland goalkeeper to turn the ball out.

With bigger gaps appearing in the Lithuania defence, Naismith was presented with two chances in quick succession. His first header was blocked quite blatantly by the arm of a defender, while he sent a second effort wide from inside the six-yard box.

There were more jittery moments for the home fans when Tomas Danilevicius glanced a header wide and a dipping shot from Novikovas flew too close for comfort before Naismith scooped over from close range, following a poor clearance.

Having squandered a number of opportunities, the men in dark blue were relieved to hear the final whistle, leaving Levein to plan for next month's double-header and keep his fingers crossed for results elsewhere.

Scotland: Allan McGregor, Steven Whittaker, Phil Bardsley (Stephen Crainey, 70), Christophe Berra, Gary Caldwell, Don Cowie, Darren Fletcher, Barry Bannan (Robert Snodgrass, 84), David Goodwillie, James Morrison (Graham Dorrans, 79), Steven Naismith.

Lithuania: Zydrunas Karcemarskas, Deividas Semberas, Ramunas Radavicius, Tadas Kijanskas (Tomas Danilevicius, 61), Marius Zaliukas, Darvydas Sernas, Saulias Mikoliunas (Ricardas Beniusis, 77), Linas Pilibaitis, Arunas Klimavicius, Deividas Cesnauskis, Tadas Labukas (Arvydas Novikovas, 46).

Referee: Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland)

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