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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep, 13, 2007

McLeish cautious after victory in Paris

Alex McLeish has warned his Scottish heroes their incredible victories over France will mean nothing if they fail to reach Euro 2008.

McLeish oversaw one of the most famous results in Scotland's long football history last night as James McFadden sealed a 1-0 win in their European Championship qualifier at the Parc de Princes.

It completed a remarkable double over last year's World Cup finalists - following October's identical result at Hampden Park - and left McLeish's men sitting pretty at the top of Group B.

With three games remaining, Scotland are in with a great chance of reaching their first major championship finals since 1998 and eliminating one of France or Italy.

McLeish said: 'We knew the group would be hard but I've always said we could qualify. We were within touching distance of Italy and France.

'With a match like this one, it is more and more possible of course. I've always believed in us.

'Now I don't think France are out of the way and, as far as we are concerned, the challenge is still there for Scotland.

'We are facing three important and difficult games. There is still a lot of work to achieve. We are not qualified yet.'

France were relegated from top spot to third following Italy's 2-1 win against Ukraine but there are only two points separating Group B's top three.

Scotland must still play both Italy and Ukraine - and arguably take four points from the two games - to avoid a heartbreaking climax to what has been a surprise challenge.

Last night yielded the biggest shock of all and McLeish was full of praise for his players.

'We needed passion tonight and this is something which the Scottish team has always had,' he said.

'My players showed a great deal of confidence, we needed something special, we knew that a win would be hard to get. We needed a feat and we got it.'

He added: 'There have been many great moments for me as manager but that match gives me one of the greatest nights of my football life.'

McFadden's long-range winner owed something to France goalkeeper Mikael Landreau, who palmed the ball into the net.

But McLeish could not care less.

'I saw the goal all the way, it was just magnificent, James is so accurate with the ball,' he said.

'We gave the Scottish fans something to celebrate and I'm glad that my players stood up against a very good French team. We have all made a nation very very happy.

'I think this goal is one of the greatest and most important for Scottish football.'

France coach Raymond Domenech blamed his side's lack of success in front of goal for their defeat.

Despite a handful of opportunities throughout the game, the home side failed to find the back of the net.

'I think we were overall better than in our first leg against Scotland, we controlled the match better but we did not have that little spark of success,' said a stunned Domenech.

'We are very unhappy to have lost, this is not a comfortable situation for us.

'We did all we could, the players cannot be blamed for the loss. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it just does no work.'

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