Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Greatest Euro Matches: Scotland-CIS (1992)

The USSR had made it to its fourth European championship final in 1988 when they lost to the Netherlands. It was thus the team that had played most Euro finals at the time, and was central to the entire history of the tournament. Four years later, the USSR had ceased to exist as historical events had changed the landscape in Europe. While the USSR had qualified in a group ahead of Italy, by the time the tournament started, the country had dissolved into 15 new countries. The solution would be either to let the second in the group in, or let USSR participate with the team that had qualified. UEFA opted for the latter option, and thus was born the “Community of Independent States” team, or CIS, a mixture of players from former USSR countries (dominated by Russia, but also players who came to play for Ukraine, Georgia and Belorussia). It was a side with excellent and experienced players, who had played in World Cups and European Championships, including the final four years before. After the opening of the USSR many of the players had gone to play in European clubs, so it was also a side with international experience. The captain of the team was Glasgow Ranger's Ukranian, Alexei Mikhailichenko. In defense his teammate in Glasgow, the veteran Oleh Kuznetsov, stood the two Spartak Moscow players Andrei Chernyshov and Kakhaber Tkhadadze. Sergei Aleinikov from Lecce and Igor Dobrovolski from Servette Geneve stood behind a powerful striking force with the young Manchester United star Andrei Kanchelskis, Benfica's Sergei Yuran, and the young Sergei Kiriakov from Dynamo Moscow.
The CIS had started the tournament with a 1-1 with Germany and 0-0 with the Netherlands, and thus stood as favourites to progress before their last match against unfancied Scotland, who had started by losing both their first matches to the Netherlands and Germany, and were thus effectively out of the tournament. Scotland had qualified ahead of Switzerland, Romania and Bulgaria. The team captain was Richard Gough from Glasgow Rangers, and the side included such players as Brian McClair from Manchester United, Gary MacAllister from Leeds, as well as the striker Ally McCoist from Glasgow Rangers.
But it were the Scottish, with only pride to play for, that were soon in the lead, when Paul MacStay, from Glasgow Celtic took a shot from outside. The flat but hard shot hit the post and bounced of goalkeeper Dmitri Kharin's head to make it a lucky 1-0 for Scotland. Barely ten minutes later Scotland got ahead 2-0 when Brian McClair shot from outside. His shot was deflected by Tkhadadze and cheated Kharin. Again somewhat lucky, but still 2-0.
The CIS were shaken by the motivated Scots, but started dominating the match as the Scots pulled back. Sergei Yuran came close and Igor Dorbovolski and Igor Korneev were incredibly unlucky not to score in a double chance. Instead, with six minutes to go Scotland was awarded a penalty in a situation where Paul Nevin was clumsily brought down in the penalty area amid already defeated CIS defenders. Gary MacAllister did not miss, and Scotland went home with their heads held high, and took the CIS with them.
With this, the CIS, or former USSR, ceased to exist as a footballing nation, as the players from this side went on to play for Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine and Georgia.
Football is a reflection of society and history. On the football pitch, this match was an expression of the demise of the formerly great team of the USSR.

Norrkobing, 18th June 1992 Idrottsparken 
Attendance: 14600 
Referee: Kurt Rothlisberger (Switzerland) 

Scotland-CIS 3-0 

Scotland: Andy Goram; Richard Gough (c), Tom Boyd, Dave McPherson, Stewart McKimmie, Paul McStay, Gary McAllister, Stuart McCall, Brian McClair (Jim McInally, 65), Ally McCoist, Kevin Gallacher (Pat Nevin, 79). Coach: Andy Roxburgh
CIS: Dmitri Kharin; Andrey Chernyshov, Kakhaber Tskhadadze, Oleh Kuznetsov, Alexei Mikhailichenko (c), Sergei Aleinikov (Dmitri Kuznetsov, 46), Viktor Onopko, Andrei Kanchelskis, Igor Dobrovolski, Sergei Yuran, Sergei Kiriakov (Igor Korneev, 46). Coach: Anatoliy Byshovets 

1-0 Paul McStay (7) 
2-0 Brian McClair (16) 
3-0 Gary McAllister (pen) (84)

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