2014 World Cup qualifying: Scotland 0-0 Serbia

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland at Hampden Park

Scotland and Serbia fought out a disappointing draw, with both sides severely lacking in inspiration.

Allan McGregor saved well from Aleksandar Kolarov's early free kick and did brilliantly to block Dusan Tadic's effort in the last minute.

The Scots' best opportunities fell to Kenny Miller, but the striker was unable to take any of them.

Steven Naismith and Robert Snodgrass also went close and James Forrest was denied in stoppage time.

But a victory would have flattered the Scots, who struggled at times to break down the Serbian defence.

It leaves Craig Levein's side desperately needing a win over Macedonia on Tuesday, with World Cup qualifying group A rivals Belgium and Croatia having picked up wins against Wales and Macedonia, respectively, on Friday.

The importance of having McGregor fit to play was underlined as early as the seventh minute as he got down to his right-hand post to keep out Kolarov's free kick, which had threatened to sneak in.

Scotland left-back Paul Dixon
Dixon gave an assured performance at left-back

The early stages hinted at an open match, with both sides keen to push forward quickly.

Scotland forced a series of early corners, to no great effect, and the Serbs looked dangerous on the counter-attack - Gary Caldwell marking his 50th cap with a last-ditch challenge inside the six-yard box to deny Darko Lasovic.

The Scots began to look more dangerous when Snodgrass came to life midway through the first half. His jinking run into the box ended with a shot that Vladimir Stojkovic managed to touch wide.

Moments later, Naismith just failed to get enough purchase on a header from a teasing Snodgrass cross to trouble Stojkovic.

Paul Dixon had made an assured debut, with some good crosses from the left, and a well-timed tackle on Zoran Tosic, who was making inroads towards the Scots goal, would have settled him further.

His fellow full-back, Alan Hutton, was also getting forward well and, when a hefty challenge on him earned Matija Nastasic the game's first yellow card half-an-hour in, Charlie Adam almost caught out Stojkovic with a direct effort on goal from the free-kick.

After early signs that the goals would flow, the game fell flat, though Miller almost got lucky with a chip that landed on the roof of the net before Lazovic had a low shot well dealt with by the largely untroubled McGregor.

Stojkovic had also had a comfortable afternoon and gathered the half's final effort - an ambitious chip from Adam - with ease.

The tempo remained less-than-frenetic after the break, though Miller had a sight of goal from a Christophe Berra knockdown but could not turn it into the net.

McGregor flew to his left to ensure an Aleksandar Ignjovski drive landed wide, while a Kolarov effort flashed even closer, with the keeper beaten.

In between those attempts, though, Miller should have had Scotland in front as he twice beat the offside trap.

Stojkovic did well to come out and block the first of his opportunities, but the striker completely failed to connect with James Morrison's lob when gifted a free header six yards out.

Naismith, too, passed up a glorious chance to nudge Scotland ahead, as he latched on to Caldwell's nicely-judged pass only to screw the shot past the far post.

Another miscued Miller header with just a quarter-of-an-hour remaining had the home fans groaning and pleading for the introduction of Jordan Rhodes.

It was only a matter of minutes before both he and Jamie Mackie emerged from the bench to replace Morrison and Miller, neither of whom had enjoyed the best of afternoons.

The substitutes were not afforded the chance to trouble Stojkovic, though Forrest, who had earlier replaced Snodgrass, did.

However, he scuffed his injury-time shot straight into the arms of the keeper, moments after McGregor had done brilliantly to prevent Tadic from grabbing a winner for Serbia.

Neither side can complain at the result, though surely the visitors will be happier with the point.

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