Scotland crashed to a 1-0 defeat in their opening FIFA World Cup™ Group 9 qualifier in Macedonia, where temperatures hit a sizzling 35 degrees.
The Scotland players suffered in sweltering conditions in Skopje and fell behind quickly to a Ilco Naumoski goal in the fifth minute. The Scots improved in the second-half but could not find their way past a stubborn Macedonian defence and are still looking for their first win under George Burley.
"We were disappointed to lose but for the whole of the second-half I thought we dominated the game," Burley said. "In the second-half I thought we were outstanding. We played good football, we passed it well and their keeper has made a few saves.
"There were a number of occasions where the ball never broke to us and it looked like a penalty that we didn't get.
We finished the game with a lot of pride as we kept battling away right to the end and I thought we deserved something from it
Macedonia took the lead with their first effort of the game in the fifth minute from a free-kick won by Goran Maznov after he went down under a challenge from Stephen McManus. Captain Goce Sedloski hit a powerful free-kick from 25 yards out that goalkeeper Craig Gordon did well to turn onto the post, but Naumoski reacted quickest to knock the rebound into the net.
Scotland defender Gary Caldwell was in the thick of the action and did well to head clear a Goran Pandev cross after the forward had superbly brought the ball down in the box in the 23rd minute. A minute later the Lazio player then connected perfectly with a volley from the edge of the box which smashed into the chest of Caldwell.
In the 30th minute James McFadden had Scotland's first real chance when he cut in from the right side of the box but he delayed too long and his effort was eventually blocked by a defender. The Scots grew in confidence and Barry Robson was next to have an attempt from 25 yards in the 35th minute but his effort was weak and easily saved by Petar Milosevski.
Caldwell saved his team from falling further behind with a brilliant last ditch tackle on Maznov in the 38th minute just as the striker was going to pull the trigger as he raced in on goal. Scotland started the second-half brightly and won a succession of corners in the first five minutes.
Scott Brown came close to an equaliser in the 51st minute. The Celtic midfielder drove from the halfway line and his pass to Darren Fletcher was deflected back into his path, but his effort from the edge of the box was well saved by Milosevski. Scotland thought they had a penalty in the 52nd minute when Robson appeared to be brought down but the referee waved away their appeals.
Only a stunning save by Gordon stopped Macedonia increasing their lead in the 56th minute. Ipswich player Veliche Shumulikoski fired in a fierce first time shot from 22 yards out which the keeper saw late but managed to get a hand to and tip over the bar.
Gordon again saved the Scots when he blocked a Naumoski shot on the turn from six yards out in the 66th minute. Scotland had strong claim for a penalty in the 71st minute when the Macedonian keeper swept McFadden's feet from under him as he attempted to take the ball round him but the referee again ignored the Scottish players' appeals.
Kris Commons, on for Paul Hartley, fired in a low cross following some super wing play on the right but no-one was on hand to pounce on Milosevski's fumble in the 77th minute. Scotland pushed for an equaliser with substitute Shaun Maloney coming closest in the final minute with a drive from the edge of the box but the Macedonians held on for the win.