Luxembourg 1 Scotland 2: Red-hot Rhodes at the double as minnows nearly upset Tartan Army
21:49 GMT, 14 November 2012
Jordan Rhodes hit a first-half double as an attack-minded Scotland side began life after Craig Levein with a narrow friendly victory in Luxembourg.
Rhodes, who scored a hat-trick for Scotland Under-21s on his previous trip to the Stade Josy Barthel, headed home from close range on 10 minutes and then slotted a simple second.
However, Scotland failed to build on their lead and survived some nervous moments after Lars Gerson's well-placed free-kick brought Luxembourg back into the game 90 seconds after the break.
Doubling up: Jordan Rhodes struck twice to earn Scotland a narrow win
Both Scotland goals were followed by
cries of 'Are you watching Craig Levein' from the visiting support, who
vastly outnumbered the home fans in the attendance of 2,521.
Their mood was no doubt lifted by
caretaker manager Billy Stark's 4-4-2 formation with Kenny Miller
partnering Rhodes up front and Steven Naismith and debutant Andrew
Shinnie playing in advanced wide positions.
Levein, who paid the price for taking
two points from Scotland's first four World Cup qualifiers, had last
played two strikers from the start in a 2-1 win against Liechtenstein at
Hampden in September 2010.
Inverness midfielder Shinnie was the
only debutant in the starting line-up but there were rare starts for
Matt Gilks and Grant Hanley, while Charlie Mulgrew lined up in central
Tucked home: Rhodes knocks in the second goal
Luxembourg: Joubert, Mutsch, Bukvic, Deville, Schnell, Janisch, Blaise, Gerson, Payal, Bettmer, Leweck.
Subs: Oberweis, Malget, Hoffmann, Peters, Da Mota Alves, Bensi, Laterza, Philipps, Jans, Turpel.
Goal: Gerson 47
Scotland: Gilks, Whittaker, Dixon, Berra, Hanley, Mulgrew, Fletcher, Shinnie, Naismith, Rhodes, Miller.
Subs: Samson, Webster, Barr, Davidson, Kelly, Griffiths, Bell.
Goals: Rhodes 11, 23
Referee: Cyrill Zimmermann (Switzerland)
The Celtic player saw a lot of the
ball in the opening stages as Scotland dominated possession on a pitch
that was already cutting up.
Rhodes had his first chance when
Luxembourg defender Guy Blaise missed his kick after Naismith had helped
the ball up the left, but the Blackburn striker was well wide as he
steered the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.
However, Rhodes only had two minutes to wait for the opener after more poor defending.
Scotland worked the ball to Paul Dixon
on the left wing and he sent over an inviting cross which Ante Bukvic
turned against his own post. Rhodes was on hand to head the ball over
the line from close range.
Gilks made his first save in the 16th
minute after Naismith had lost right-back Tom Schnell at a short
free-kick. The defender sent over a deep cross that was met by Mario
Mutsch but the Blackpool goalkeeper got down to hold the header.
Mutsch soon fired wide from 22 yards after Scotland again found themselves a man short down their left.
Miller curled over after a Rhodes
lay-off before the Blackburn forward hit his second in the 23rd minute.
Shinnie collected Whittaker's cross from the right and hit the byline
before driving the ball towards goal.
His effort was blocked but fell for kindly for Rhodes who slipped the ball home with his left foot from six yards.
Rhodes to glory: The youngster is congratulated by his compatriots
Miller was soon through on goal after a
series of short, sharp passes with Naismith but the flag was raised as
the striker shot straight at Jonathan Joubert.
Scotland continued to control
possession but they were almost caught out before the break when Mutsch
broke down the left and sent over a low cross to right-winger Charles
Leweck, whose drive was held by Gilks.
Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly
replaced Mulgrew at half-time to make his debut but he soon gave away a
foul that allowed the hosts back into the game. The execution was superb
as Gerson curled his 25-yard free-kick into the top corner to leave
Gilks with no chance.
Scotland continued to dominate
possession but were making little headway with Naismith growing
frustrated at the number of fouls committed by the home defenders.
Scraped: Scotland only won by one goal against the minnow opposition
Leigh Griffiths became the third new cap in the 70th minute when he replaced Shinnie with Miller moving wide right.
Scotland soon had a let-off after a move broke down on the right with Whittaker out of position.
Hanley backed off after David Turpel
collected the ball and the Luxembourg forward turned and sent the ball
inside him and out to Mutsch.
The home captain's cross found Stefano
Bensi in a great position but Gilks did enough to unconvincingly palm
the header wide for a corner.
Battle: Charles Leweck (left) tries to keep up with Scotland's Paul Dixon.
Before the match, Stark had signalled
his intention of making six substitutions but the game was in the
balance and Scotland's formation, now looking more like a 4-2-4, was
giving the hosts space to attack.
Rhodes thought he had his hat-trick as
he headed home Kelly's cross but the flag was immediately raised and
Bensi tested Gilks again with a 20-yard drive that the goalkeeper got
down well to hold.
Gilks then saved Turpel's header
before Murray Davidson won his first cap as the midfielder came on for
Rhodes to see help see out the match in injury-time.