By Ross Hart
With Hampden Park all set to go crazy in celebration, 50,000 Scotland supporters slumped into their seats in disbelief as debutant Chris Iwelumo missed a sitter to deny Scotland victory over Norway.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers striker, on as a second half substitute, contrived to side foot the ball wide of an open goal from only 3 yards out when it was easier to score.
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It was a day that the 30 year old had long dreamed of but it turned into a nightmare that would come back to haunt he and Scotland’s beleaguered manager George Burley after an indifferent start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.
The 0-0 draw leaves Scotland second in group nine behind leaders Holland but they have amassed a mere four points from their opening 3 matches.
The Tartan Army rolled up in their droves expecting to see an attacking Scotland side that would defeat their visitors and effectively rule them out of the running for a qualification place for South Africa in 2010.
But Burley elected to start with a solitary striker, talisman James McFadden, while being supported by wide men Shaun Maloney and James Morrison, tactics which worked well in the previous victory over Iceland.
But they failed to pay off as Norway took the game to Scotland and, led by giant forward John Carew, caused the home side all sorts of problems.
Time after time he threatened and but for poor finishing and good goalkeeping from Craig Gordon he could’ve wrapped up the points for his team on his own.
In the first half, he forced Gordon into a smart stop with a powerful shot after he evaded defender Gary Caldwell but fortunately Bjorn Helge Riise hammered the rebound over the crossbar.
Scotland had little to show for their efforts as Carew continued to terrorise their defence until the second half until the introduction of Iwelumo and Hibernian’s Steven Fletcher saw the Scots play with two forwards.
Barry Robson went close with a stinging shot from 20 yards which forced Norway goalkeeper Jon Knudsen into his first save of the game.
Then came Iwelumo’s moment, as infamous as Billy Bremner’s miss against Brazil in the 1974 World Cup that cost Scotland victory over the then world champions.
Gary Naysmith broke forward from full back and cut into the box from the left hand side and his ball across the box fell to Iwelumo who amazingly missed with the net and the glory gaping.
It was a horror show for Scotland and it would’ve been worse had it not been for the heroics of Craig Gordon to deny Steffen Iversen from close range and as well as having luck on their side.
Norway defender Kjetil Waehler thought he’d scored with a header but it hit the side netting while Carew raced clear of David Weir and with only Gordon to beat, he spooned the ball over the bar.
It was a disappointing day all round for Scotland and for Iwelumo, it was a dream realised but a nightmare lived out.