Belfast Telegraph

Miller brings ref to book after Scotland frustration at penalty calls

By Gavin McCafferty

Scotland striker Kenny Miller cut a frustrated figure after refereeing decisions again played a significant part in a damaging result for the team's qualification hopes.

Miller scored the opener and set up Darren Fletcher to put Scotland 2-1 ahead — moments after Jaroslav Plasil had levelled — with seven minutes left of Saturday's crucial Euro 2012 encounter against the Czech Republic, but he was left feeling robbed after two late decisions went against Scotland.

Dutch referee Kevin Blom ruled Danny Wilson had fouled Jan Rezek in the box when it appeared the Liverpool defender had made contact with the ball, to allow Michal Kadlec to net a 90th-minute equaliser from the spot.

Blom then turned down what looked a far stronger penalty claim in the other box when Roman Hubnik caught Christophe Berra's ankle — booking the Wolves defender for diving instead.

Scotland's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 ended when Christian Panucci headed a last-gasp winner for Italy at Hampden after Spanish referee Manuel Gonzalez bafflingly awarded the visitors a free-kick when Alan Hutton was barged over and Miller was left with a familiar feeling.

“I know we never really got started in the second-half and kind of felt we were just waiting for them to score so we're disappointed with that, but when you get your nose back in front again and you lose a goal the way we did, it's like Italy from three years ago,” he said.

“Their penalty was soft and I think we had a stonewaller at the other end.

“You've got to rely on the referees to get the major decisions right and he has probably got two wrong there. With the two decisions that have gone against us, we can feel hard done by.”

Miller did feel Scotland contributed to their own downfall, though.

“The decision of the penalty might have been wrong, but there were a couple of incidents before where we could have stopped it at source,” he said.

The Czechs remained five points ahead of Scotland in second place in Group I having played one game more.

“We said the next three games were crucial, particularly this game because it gave us the opportunity to beat them and get points back,” said Miller, who misses tomorrow night’s game with Lithuania through suspension.

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