Christophe Berra’s late header proves a winner for Scotland

Scotland 1 Northern Ireland 0: A late header by substitute Christophe Berra gave Scotland a narrow but deserved 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in their Vauxhall International Challenge match at Hampden Park.

Christophe Berra’s late header proves a winner for Scotland

Visiting keeper Michael McGovern made several saves in the first half to keep an enterprising home side at bay, most notably from Steven Fletcher and Ikechi Anya.

The Scots also had the best of a second half which was punctuated with substitutions but overall it was a decent performance from the Scots as they turn their attention to their 2016 Euro qualifier against Gibraltar at the national stadium on Sunday.

Michael O’Neill’s team were rather insipid but they will be glad of the work-out ahead of their Group F qualifier at home to Finland on Sunday.

Scotland started with purpose and in the fourth minute McGovern, making his second appearance for the visitors, denied Fletcher with a fine save, after the Sunderland striker had been set up by Anya.

The Watford wide-man then tested McGovern with a low drive which was turned round the post for a well-worked corner which finished with James McArthur driving high over from 20 yards.

A subdued Northern Ireland side created a decent chance in the 13th minute when Josh Magennis headed a raking Evans pass into the path of the unmarked Oliver Norwood but the Reading midfielder slashed his shot over the bar.

The Scots kept huffing and puffing and in the final minute McGovern again blocked Fletcher after he had been put through by Maloney.

As expected, Strachan made interval substitutions with Gordon, stopper Martin and Maloney being replaced by Allan McGregor, Berra and Steven Naismith.

The latter came close within five minutes with a near-post header from a Forsyth cross from the bye-line following a Fletcher pass.

With five minutes remaining the Hamilton keeper was eventually beaten as Berra got his head to a Ritchie corner, sending the ball in at the near post.

World champions Germany were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Asian Cup winners Australia with Lukas Podolski saving Joachim Low’s men from an embarrassing home defeat.

Marco Reus gave the hosts the lead in Kaiserslautern, but James Troisi levelled before the interval.

Mile Jedinak stunned the Fritz-Walter Stadion by putting Australia in front early in the second-half and the guests had chances to increase their lead before Podolski struck inside the final 10 minutes to salvage Germany a draw.

SCOTLAND:

Gordon (McGregor 46), Whittaker (Russell 78), Greer, Martin (Naismith 46), Forsyth, McArthur (Morrison 62), Darren Fletcher, Ritchie, Maloney (Berra 46), Steven Fletcher (Rhodes 62), Anya.

NORTHERN IRELAND:

McGovern, Danny Lafferty, Jonny Evans (McCullough 80), Baird (Hodson 58), Dallas, Reeves (Davis 69), McNair, Hughes,Norwood (Ryan McLaughlin 69), Magennis (McKay 75),Grigg (McCourt 58).

Ref:

Martin Atkinson (England).

International results:

Denmark 3 USA 2; Georgia 2 Malta 0; Germany 2 Australia 2; Scotland 1 Northern Ireland 0.

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