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 By PA Sport

Gordon Strachan hails Scotland's second-half showing in draw

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan felt his side's second-half display was the best they had played for some time after James McArthur's late header rescued a World Cup qualifying point against Lithuania at Hampden.

Scotland struggled to create chances from open play in the first half and fell behind in the 59th minute after Fedor Cernych played a one-two with Vykintas Slivka to get away from Grant Hanley and bury his shot behind David Marshall.

Most of Scotland's chances came from Andy Robertson's overlaps. Robert Snodgrass and Chris Martin came close before substitute James Forrest missed a great chance.

But Scotland looked to have run out of time and ideas, especially after substitute Leigh Griffiths sent a free header straight at the goalkeeper.

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Cernych missed a clear opportunity for his second but McArthur headed home after an 89th-minute long throw and Scotland almost snatched an unlikely three points with some late pressure, a goal-line clearance saving an own goal five minutes into injury time.

Strachan said: "I thought the first half was a game like the English Championship where the ball got smacked from one end to the other, basically a game of knock-ons, knockdowns, who wins it.

"And it's very hard to play when the ball's in the air a lot, you need to be really brave and really on top of your form to deal with that type of football. At times we did, made a couple of chances.

"Second half, played well, played really well. Best we have played for a long time. Made more chances than we did in Malta, it was exciting stuff at times and to drag themselves back after that body blow of the goal was terrific. I congratulate the lads on that and for going for it.

"There were a lot of chances -- cleared off the line, could have been handball, could have been this, could have been that. But it might be a good point in the end."

Strachan, who lost captain Darren Fletcher to a thigh strain at half-time, refused to accept his team had a lucky escape.

"I don't see the lucky bit, I think it was the other way about, I thought we were unlucky," he said. "We had a lot of chances, it just so happened we took the chance late on, which wasn't as good as some of the other chances.

"Balls sliding by the post, one headed off the line at the end, maybe a penalty. There were a few things that were unlucky.

"You might put it down to not finishing well, so I will rephrase it and say we weren't unlucky, we just didn't finish our chances."

Scotland settled for a draw at home against Lithuania.

Strachan said he would "shake it up a bit" with regards his team selection for Tuesday's qualifier in Slovakia, who lost 1-0 in Slovenia in their second qualifier.

"There were some good performances, some great performances," he added. "Chris Martin was outstanding up front bringing people into the game; Robertson got better as the game went on; Barry Bannan was terrific.

"Some probably want to play a wee bit better but their effort and character was good."

Lithuania manager Edgaras Jankauskas hailed his team's effort and claimed it would be a "miracle" if they finished above Scotland.

"I cannot be unhappy because I know how much my team put in and I know how strong the Scotland team is," the former Hearts striker said. "We are proud of the display.

"In some periods we were successful cancelling out the main weapons but in time their physical strength took over. A lot of the Scotland team play in England. They are better used to the physical demands. Some of my players are in the local league.

"At some point it looked like a battlefield, elbows were flying around."

Jankauskas, who felt a draw was a fair result, denied his team had wasted time in the final stages after several players went down looking for treatment.

"If they were lying on the grass it was because they were exhausted with cramps or tackled or elbowed to the head. There was no order to do that. We are here to play an honest game."

When asked if he thought they could finish above Scotland, he said: "It would be a miracle. Knowing the importance of football to the country, to the government and to the people, it would be unfair."

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