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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 6 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 10, 2007

Lithuania diving an eye-opener for McEveley

Scotland full-back Jay McEveley found the play-acting of Lithuania an eye-opener on his competitive international debut.

The Derby County defender learned to be wary around his opponents after some theatrical falls from the likes of Andrius Velicka and Tomas Danilevicius early in the Hampden encounter.

And a blatant dive from Hearts midfielder Saulius Mikoliunas almost delivered a huge blow to Scotland's Euro 2008 qualifying hopes when Slovenian referee Damir Skomina pointed to the spot on the hour mark.

Danilevicius converted the penalty to cancel out Kris Boyd's first-half header but late goals from Stephen McManus and James McFadden earned the Scots a 3-1 triumph to ensure they go into Wednesday's clash with Group B leaders France in second place.

McEveley was relieved that the penalty, awarded when Mikoliunas threw himself over Darren Fletcher's outstretched leg, did not prove costly.

'I came back and took the ball when he cut inside and he just fell,' the Derby defender said. 'It was embarrassing but that's the way it is.

'He got a penalty and it would have been sad if we drew the game on a decision like that, but we had the confidence and the ability in the squad to go on and get the next two goals.

'It's hard because they do con the ref a little bit. They fall over and they make it look convincing and it's a difficult job for him.

'But that's up to us, we have got to be a bit smarter, maybe just stand off them a little bit and not get tight and not let them feel us so they can fall over.

'It's about adapting to teams like that and adapting to international football because it is so different to league football.'

The former England Under-21 player, who switched allegiance on the basis of his late Scottish grandfather, was impressed with his first Hampden experience.

'It was magnificent, it was what I dreamed it would be,' said Liverpool-born McEveley, who made his debut in last month's friendly win over South Africa.

'The crowd coming out gives you that extra lift and it gets you up for the game.

'The lads had told me what the atmosphere was like and how passionate the supporters are up here about their football.

'It was just a brilliant occasion to be involved in.

'In the camp it has been brilliant, they have accepted me and it's like I'm one of the squad now.

'I'm very happy to be involved and that's exactly why I chose to represent Scotland - because of days like that and nights like Wednesday hopefully.'

McEveley's Hampden debut continued the upturn in his career in 2007.

'Twelve months ago I was sitting on the bench at Blackburn, wondering when the next game was going to come,' he said.

'I couldn't see light at the end of the tunnel.

'But getting to Derby in the January transfer window and getting up to the Premier League with them, my first international cap against South Africa, I'm made up with the way it has gone.'

• Meanwhile, Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith has hit out at Saulius Mikoliunas for the blatant dive that won Lithuania a penalty against Scotland.

'I was disappointed in Mikoliunas,' Smith told The Times. 'It could be that he reverted to what is acceptable in Lithuania because he was playing for his national side, even though it's unacceptable here.

'This is a blight on our game and the more we recognise it the better.

'I don't think the referee helped the situation, either, possibly because he comes from a country where that sort of behaviour isn't so frowned upon. I thought the referee was poor.'