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Miller’s special moment a product of meticulous preparation

graeme macpherson

12 Nov 2011

KENNY MILLER savoured the greatest goal of his career as Scotland overcame obdurate Cypriot opposition to win in Larnaca last night.

The Cardiff City forward put the Scots ahead with a first-half lob, an impressive way to mark his 16th goal for his country. He later revealed that the move – latching on to a long Christophe Berra pass before finishing with panache over the goalkeeper – was rehearsed.

“I really don’t think I’ve scored a better goal,” he said. “I actually had a similar chance five minutes earlier when I managed to break free over on the left. Unfortunately, on that occasion, I sclaffed my shot. But when I was on the right I managed to produce and it’s definitely one of the best goals I’ve scored in my career. I’ll take strikes like that any day of the week, I was delighted with it.

“The most pleasing thing about it, though, is that it was something we spent all week working on in training. We spent a good bit of time on it, hitting long diagonals with me pulling off the defender. That’s something the gaffer has worked hard on. He’s been looking at different ways to get at teams so it’s extra special when something like that comes off in a game.”

Mackie’s goal was also a special one, the Queens Park Rangers striker finishing adroitly after a meandering run across the penalty box. Having spent the best part of the year sidelined with a broken leg, Mackie admitted moments like that made the long slog in rehab worthwhile. “It’s been a long road back for me and this feels really special,” he said. “I have a lot of people to thank for getting me back to a level where I can once again play for my country.

“I missed seven games including the bulk of the qualifiers and that was extremely hard for me. Missing those qualifiers in the run-in to Euro 2012 was harder for me to cope with than missing games for my club. I’m so glad now that I put the extra mile in my recovery and get my rewards on nights like this.”

Both players admitted the Scotland performance, in front of a sparse crowd, could have been better, with Cyprus creating a number of chances.

“Friendlies like these are hard,” said Miller. “There wasn’t a big crowd and it was quite low-key but we managed to get the win, which is important. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the best we can play. Allan McGregor had a brilliant save in the first half when he tipped a great shot on to the crossbar. But that’s what he’s there for.”

Mackie reiterated the sentiments but was also pleased to see his side score twice away from home. “For Scotland to score two good goals is great, but overall we probably made it too hard for ourselves. We have to try and keep the ball better,” he said.

“People expect us to come and roll over Cyprus. On paper they are a lesser side and it is not as easy as that. At the end of the day, though, we won and that keeps the momentum going.”

The result is a positive way to begin the road to the World Cup in 2014 and Craig Levein was delighted that his side were able to attain it with two fine strikes. “International football is not about going at 100 miles an hour,” said the Scotland manager.

“I was quite happy with the way we passed the ball and created opportunities and overall I think we deserved to win the match. The first [goal] was fantastic for us and the second one was a fantastic piece of skill by Jamie Mackie.”

Taken from the Herald

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