Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Les Bleus stunned by MsFadden strike

FLYING HIGH: Scotland's James MacFadden scored the only goal of the game, a 25m drive which France keeper Michael Landreau palmed into his own net

AFP , PARIS

James McFadden's long-range goal earned Scotland a landmark 1-0 victory over France on Wednesday night to put them firmly on course for the Euro 2008 finals on a winning night for Britain.

McFadden turned and shot with less than half an hour to go at the Parc des Princes to propel Scotland to the top of Group B and within sight of their first major finals in a decade, while England beat Russia 3-0 at Wembley and Wales claimed a deserved 5-2 victory in Slovakia.

Irish teams had a rough night however with Northern Ireland falling 2-1 in Iceland to dent their hopes of qualifying from Group F and the Republic of Ireland lost 1-0 in the Czech Republic in Group D.

But for Scotland, it was an unforgettable night against France.

"It's something else. To beat them at Hampden was an upset but to come to France and beat them was wonderful. They are one of the best teams in the world and we have got the win," goalscorer McFadden said.

McFadden said his chance simply came down to the striker's instinct.

"We trained here last night and balls were flying everywhere," he said. "It was just one of those things. I got a touch, turned and there was no one there so I decided to have a go."

McFadden's 64th minute goal followed a long kick-out from keeper Craig Gordon, the Scotland striker taking two touches before unleashing a 25m drive which Mickael Landreau could only palm into his net.

It is only the third victory for Scotland in France in the post-war period.

But more importantly, it is a huge boost to the qualifying hopes of Scotland, who go top of group B with overnight leaders France dropping to third behind second-placed Italy after their victory against Ukraine.

France dominated the Scots throughout, but in the face of a determined defense which gave the former World Cup winners no quarter, France grew increasingly frustrated as the match wore on.

The hosts created chance after chance at the Parc des Princes -- where the thousands of tartan-clad Scots fans helped create a "home" atmosphere for the visitors.

In the closing stages France coach Raymond Domenech grew increasingly desperate, taking off France defensive midfielder Patrick Vieria and replacing him with attacking midfielder Samir Nasri.

Another defensive midfielder, Eric Abidal, also came off and was replaced by forward Karim Benzema.

Bolton Wanderers striker Nicolas Anelka, Nasri and Bayern Munich striker Franck Ribery were consistent in keeping the Scots' defense under pressure in the closing stages.

But in the end, France ran out of ideas as cross after cross, and several shots on goal, were repelled by the visitors' defense.

Scotland lead Group B with 21 points, a point ahead of Italy who won 2-1 in Ukraine, and two points ahead of France with just the top two teams qualifying for the finals next year.

Italy, who drew 0-0 in France on Saturday, kept on course with their victory over Ukraine thanks to two goals from Udinese striker Antonio Di Natale, who was preferred in place of Alessandro Del Piero. Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko scored for the hosts.

The Italians should win at home against Georgia on Oct. 13 and the Faroe Islands on Nov. 21, meaning in theory a draw would be enough in Scotland on Nov. 17 to put them through.

England's 3-0 win over Russia has given Steve McClaren's under-pressure side a huge qualifying boost.

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