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Christophe Berra earns Scotland uninspiring draw in Slovenia

• Slovenia 1-1 Scotland

Christophe Berra scores Scotland's goal in a friendly against Slovenia. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images

Christophe Berra's first-half header gave Scotland a solid if uninspiring 1‑1 draw against Slovenia in their friendly at the Bonifika stadium in Koper.

After James Morrison's close-range shot was pushed on to the post by the home goalkeeper and the captain, Samir Handanovic, the midfielder Andraz Kirm gave Slovenia the lead in the 32nd minute with a header from Miso Brecko's cross.

Seven minutes later the Scots were back on level terms with a similar goal when Berra buried the ball past Handanovic from Charlie Adam's corner from the left.

The second half produced little goalmouth action and that will be a worry to Craig Levein, from a Scotland perspective.

Morrison and the Celtic winger James Forrest impressed but the lack of a goal threat will need to be addressed before the World Cup qualifying campaign begins in September.

Scotland will play Serbia at Hampden Park on 8 September and Macedonia three days later in Glasgow as they begin their bid to reach the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil and the Scots manager will need goals by then.

There was an element of experimentation about Levein's selection. The Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew was handed his debut, starting at left-back with the stand-in captain Gary Caldwell partnering Berra in central defence.

Norwich City's Russell Martin made his first start at right-back, with Allan McGregor in goal.

A midfield five of Adam, James Morrison, James McArthur, Forrest and Jamie Mackie backed up Craig Mackail-Smith, who was playing the lone striker's role with Kenny Miller named on the bench.

The Scots went into the game hoping to build on their 2-1 friendly win over Cyprus in November but McGregor had to come to the rescue in the third minute when his defence went to sleep.

The Slovenia midfielder Josip Ilicic split the Scotland rearguard with a clever pass to release Valter Birsa but the Rangers keeper raced from his goal to make the saving block at the edge of his box.

Moments later, at the other end, Mackie fired wide of the target from 25 yards and Forrest, in particular, was looking in the mood on the left wing.

The guile the visitors needed came from Adam in the 26th minute when his superbly weighted pass found Morrison racing into the Slovenia box but his close-range shot was touched on to the post by Handanovic, who gathered at the second attempt.

The ease in which the home side took the lead will have infuriated Levein. The right-back Brecko easily got his cross in past Mulgrew and Kirm rose high above Martin, who failed to react, to bullet his header past McGregor.

But six minutes from the break Adam's corner from the left – the visitors' first of the game – found Berra at the back post and the Wolves defender sent his header from eight yards past Handanovic for his second international goal.

Barry Bannan replaced Adam for the start of the second half before the tireless Morrison had another attempt on goal in the 51st minute – his right-footed drive from distance clearing the bar.

Bannan, quick to immerse himself in the action, forced a decent save from Handanovic with a 25-yard drive three minutes later.

But the early energy had gone, the tempo dropped and the substitutions began to disrupt the flow of the game.

In the 80th minute, though, Mackie came close when he headed a Robert Snodgrass cross just past the post, before he was replaced by Kenny Miller.

Moments later, as the visitors' defending grew more desperate, McGregor was happy to see a drive from Zlatko Dedic take a deflection past his post.

Taken from the Guardian/Observer

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