Scotland 1-0 France

Gary Caldwell fired Scotland to a famous victory over France and gave their hopes of qualifying for the European Championships a massive shot in the arm.

The Celtic defender became an instant hero when he grabbed the only goal of the game, as the Scots brought one of the best teams on the planet crashing down to earth. The atmosphere was electric and the Tartan Army never stopped singing.

The victory sets up Walter Smith's men perfectly for their next qualifier against the Ukraine in Kiev on Wednesday night.

James McFadden was given the nod ahead of both

Kris Boyd and Garry O'Connor for the lone striker role in the absence of the suspended Kenny Miller. Another notable inclusion was Barry Ferguson, who had not featured for the national team since March through injury but who assumed the captain's armband for the match at Hampden.

France head coach Raymond Domenech was able to name both Patrick Vieira and Willy Sagnol in his starting XI after being passed fit.

But the injured William Gallas was replaced by former Rangers defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, while Manchester United star Louis Saha had to settle for a place on the bench.

The last meeting between the two nations ended in a 5-0 thrashing for the Scots in Paris back in March 2002, as the Berti Vogts era got off to a memorable start for all the wrong reasons.

But maximum points from their opening two qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Lithuania last month meant this was a Scotland team with far more self-belief and confidence.

Those victories had propelled them to the top of Group B, ahead of France on goal difference following their own wins over Georgia and Italy.

Smith had urged the Tartan Army to be realistic about Scotland's chances but you could sense the sell-out crowd at Hampden were anticipating a night to remember in the same mould as their last victory over Les Bleus in Glasgow in 1989 when Maurice Johnston was on the scoresheet twice.

And 50,000 fans were on their feet when Scotland broke up the park within seconds of kick-off, with Lee McCulloch sending an inviting ball into the box but there was no blue jersey to meet the cross and Gregory Coupet comfortably smothered.

The Scots had another chance when McFadden robbed Lilian Thuram of possession on the by-line only to see his shot cannon off the body of team-mate Paul Hartley.

France won a free-kick on the edge of the box when Thierry Henry was brought down by Caldwell but a curling effort from the French superstar crashed off the post as the Scots breathed a sigh of relief.

Scotland found themselves under pressure again when France were given another free-kick in a dangerous area.

David Weir was responsible for the foul on Henry but, this time, the striker's effort was comfortably held by Craig Gordon.

France had the ball in the back of the net when Patrick Vieira met Franck Ribery's free-kick and nodded home from six yards but the offside flag was already raised.

The World Cup finalists were now enjoying the best of the chances and Florent Malouda sent a teasing ball to the feet of Sagnol on the right flank but his shot fell across the face of goal and wide.

David Trezeguet then sent an acrobatic over-head kick trickling over the line but he was well offside and the flag was raised early.

McFadden picked up the first booking of the game after 29 minutes for a challenge on Boumsong.

And McCulloch quickly followed the Everton forward into the referee's book for a kick at Vieira with 32 minutes gone.

Scotland could have snatched the lead before the break when Hartley's corner found the head of Caldwell but he nodded straight into the arms of Coupet from close range.

The home side were out the traps quickly after the restart and McFadden shrugged off two defenders to meet a long ball from Darren Fletcher only to screw wide of the post.

Henry and Gordon were then involved in a collision in the box, with the Scotland keeper coming off worse but he was able to continue after treatment.

Scotland made their first change with just under an hour gone when McCulloch made way for fellow Wigan team-mate Gary Teale.

Within a few minutes the French swapped Trezeguet for Louis Saha - who had been an injury doubt - as Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson looked on from the stand.

France were stunned when Scotland took the lead after 67 minutes.

Hartley's inswinging corner fell to the feet of Caldwell 12 yards out and he grabbed his second - and most important - goal of his international career when he poked low into the back of the net to send Hampden into ecstasy.

However, the Scots suffered a setback moments later when Christian Dailly was booked for time-wasting, meaning he misses the qualifier against the Ukraine.

Scotland could have added to their lead when Ferguson swept the ball into the path of Hartley in front of goal but Vieira managed to intercept and clear the danger before he could pull the trigger.

Henry missed the best chance to levl with a free header from eight yards out before substitute O'Connor was not too far away with an opportunistic, long-range strike in the final minute.

But, in the end, Caldwell's goal proved to be enough for Smith's brave battlers to strengthen their grasp on pole position in Group B.

Dailly, Pressley, Weir, Graham Alexander
Fletcher, Ferguson, Caldwell, Hartley, McCulloch (Teale 58)
McFadden (O'Connor 72).
Subs Not Used: Neil Alexander, McManus, Neilson, Boyd, Severin.
Booked: McFadden, McCulloch, Dailly.

Goals: Caldwell 67.

Abidal, Thuram, Boumsong, Sagnol
Ribery (Wiltord 74), Vieira, Makelele, Malouda
Trezeguet (Saha 62), Henry.
Subs Not Used: Landreau, Clerc, Escude, Diarra, Squillaci.
Ref: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland).

Att: 57,000


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