Vaduz, Liechtenstein, Oct 9: Craig Mackail-Smith scored a first-half header for Scotland to beat Liechtenstein 1-0 on Saturday and keep its chances of qualifying for next year's European Championship alive.
Mackail-Smith rewarded coach Craig Levein's decision to hand the striker his first start by steering Phil Bardsley's cross into goal in the 32nd-minute at the Rheinpark Stadion.
Scotland moved into second place in Group I, one point ahead of the Czech Republic.
It must now win its final match away against European and World Cup champion Spain on Tuesday to secure its place in the playoff for next year's tournament in Poland and Ukraine or wait on the Czechs' result at Lithuania.
Spain has won all seven of its group games going into the last at Alicante.
“It's going to be very difficult to go to Spain and win so we're going to need a little help from Lithuania,” captain Darren Fletcher said. “But a shock can happen.”
Fletcher flew into the principality on Friday after recovering from tonsillitis, which had led Levein to initially rule the Manchester United midfielder out of the match.
But Mackail-Smith proved the hero after replacing the injured Kenny Miller in attack as Scotland dominated but found it hard to break through against an opponent that was also missing many regulars to injury.
Mackail-Smith's first international goal came after Steven Naismith had missed three good chances for Scotland, which still endured a 69th-minute scare when Allan McGregor stretched to save Nicolas Hasler's low shot from going in at the far post.
“We made it harder than it should have been,” Levein said. “We had enough chances in the first half in particular to put the game to bed and of course when you don't get that second goal the opposition still have a degree of hope.”
Liechtenstein finished last in Group I with four points from its eight matches.
Liechtenstein: Peter Jehle, Martin Rechsteiner, Marco Ritzberger, Martin Stocklasa, Daniel Kaufmann, Martin Buchel (Wolfgang Kieber, 71), Rony Hanselmann (Lucas Eberle, 75), Nicolas Hasler, Michele Polverino, Mario Frick, Thomas Beck.
Scotland: Allan McGregor, Alan Hutton, Gary Caldwell, Phil Bardsley, Christophe Berra, Darren Fletcher, Barry Bannan (James Forrest, 73), James Morrison, Charlie Adam (Don Cowie, 76), Steven Naismith, Craig Mackail-Smith. AP