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McGivern sent off on Northern Ireland debut

Scotland 0 Northern Ireland 0

By Mark McIntosh

Teenager Ryan McGivern will never forget his international debut - but he just might want to after his dream start at Hampden Park last night turned into a cruel nightmare.

Danish referee Nicolai Volquartz called time on the Manchester City left-back's baptism to international football when he produced a red card for the distraught defender 12 minutes into the second half.

It was a crushing blow to the 18-year old who saw red after picking up two yellow cards for clumsy challenges on Scott Brown.

The dismissal said little about the undoubted talent the youngster posesses, more his naivety at the top level.

But despite the bitter pill of the sending off, Northern Ireland had a chance to return home victorious only for David Healy's penalty - three minutes after being reduced to 10 men - to be superbly saved by Allan McGregor.

Scotland threatened several times to claim a friendly win at Hampden Park for the first time in 12 years but Maik Taylor denied club mate James McFadden when it seemed easier to find the net.

Worthington's troops failed to create much in the opening period but, perhaps more importantly, they limited the opposition to precious little away from home.

At the back Jonny Evans, playing in the centre, took command and both he and Gareth McAuley looked comfortable on the ball as well as breaking up Scotland attacks while Martin Paterson showed quality at the other end.

McFadden was the home side's main threat. The Birmingham City man oozes class and it was easy to see why both Old Firm clubs are tripping over each other trying to secure his services.

His trickery threatened to unlock Northern Ireland's defence on numerous occasions but the only time he evaded his markers, he stepped inside the disappointing Chris Brunt, wriggled clear of McGivern but shot straight at Northern Ireland skipper Taylor.

In midfield, George Burley's men enjoyed a lot of possession but, in truth, Taylor was rarely troubled.

The only real downside to the first-half performance was the decision-making from the boys in white.

Both Paterson and Healy crossed deep to the back post for Brunt with other players better placed but that is something Worthington and his coaches will work on in training ahead of the first World Cup qualifier in Bratislava.

The impressive Paterson was withdrawn at the interval and he was quickly followed by Brunt.

On came Dean Shiels - for the first time under Worthington - and Warren Feeney to give Healy a strike partner.

Then came the moment young McGivern will run over in his mind for years to come when he was dismissed for a second foul on Celtic's Scott Brown.

That blow was compounded when the lively Sammy Clingan was then forced off with a knock but what Northern Ireland lack in individual creativity, they more than make up for in commitment and the game soon burst into life.

Feeney was sent charging down on Craig Gordon's goal by Michael O'Connor - who had just replaced Clingan - and after the Dundee United striker was sent crashing to the ground, referee Vollquartz pointed to the spot.

Unfortunately for Northern Ireland, the Danish official didn't seem just as desperate to reach for a red card for the Scottish keeper who got off was a caution.

Up stepped Mr Reliable Healy. It was a decent penalty from the record-goal-scorer but all the credit had to go to Britain's most expensive custodian.

That got Scotland's tail up again. Northern Ireland had let a golden opportunity slip and the sniffed blood.

Substitute Darren Barr saw a powerful header blocked by Taylor and McFadden headed over.

But the defence stood up and fought off any danger. And it wasn't all backs to the wall.

Steven Davis played a clever ball into the danger area on 75 minutes but Feeney was unable to get close enough to connect with a diving header, mainly due to a nudge from Barr.

SCOTLAND: Gordon 7, Alexander 6, Naysmith 6, McManus 6, Weir 6, Thomson 6, D Flethcher 6, Brown 7, Miller 5, McFadden 7, Morrison 6. Subs: McGregor 7, Marshall, Whittaker, Robson 6, Commons 6, Berra 5, Barr 6, Boyd, S Flethcher, Stewart 6, Clarkson.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Taylor 7, McAuley 7, McGivern 6, Evans 9, Craigan 7, Clingan 7, Baird 6, Davis 7, Healy 7, Paterson 7, Brunt 5. Subs: Mannus, Duff 6, O'Connor 6, Shiels 6, Feeney 6.

Referee: Nicolai Vollquartz (Denmark) 6

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