LONDON - A late penalty by Michal Kadlek
earned Czech Republic a 2-2 draw with Scotland in Glasgow on
Saturday to keep the visitors on course for a Euro 2012 play-off
Scotland seemed set for victory when Darren Fletcher struck
with eight minutes to go but Kadlek blasted his spot kick into
the roof of the net after Danny Wilson was harshly adjudged to
have tripped substitute Jan Rezek in the 90th minute.
World champions Spain are commanding leaders in Group I with
maximum points from five games while the Czechs remain in second
on 10 points from six matches. Scotland move up to third on five
points from five games.
Only one runner-up from the nine qualifying groups will
qualify automatically and the best the Czechs can probably hope
for is second place behind Spain and a play-off slot.
They played with plenty of invention and should have taken
the lead in the opening minutes when Milan Baros wasted a
gift-wrapped chance, firing over the crossbar after he had been
teed up by Petr Jiracek.
Scotland took the lead against the run of play just before
half-time when Fletcher played in Kenny Miller whose shot evaded
the attempted save of keeper Jan Lastuvka.
For all the Czechs's neat football after the break they
needed a rather unorthodox equaliser when Jaroslav Plasil turned
the ball into the net off his stomach from a cross after 78
In a tense finale Scotland went back in front when Miller
seized on a defensive slip to race towards goal. He then teed up
skipper Fletcher with a perfect diagonal pass and the Manchester
United midfielder calmly rolled the ball into the opposite
corner of the net.
The celebratory mood of the fans soon turned sour though and
they were further incensed when Scotland had a penalty claim
turned down when Christophe Berra tumbled in the area and was
booked for diving by Dutch referee Kevin Blom.
"I've got to be careful what I say. What I can say is that
we lost the game not through anything we did wrong," Scotland
manager Craig Levein told BBC radio.
"I lay the blame on the referee's shoulders. Two huge
mistakes. Berra gets brought down and is booked for diving!".
Spain will qualify for the finals if they beat Liechtenstein
on Tuesday while Scotland must beat Lithuania the same day to
keep their slim hopes alive.
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