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Craig backs Strachan to save Scots.


WALES striker Craig Bellamy has backed his former boss Gordon Strachan to lead Scotland on an international resurrection.

The Cardiff forward had a sixmonth spell in Glasgow working under the new Dark Blues manager in 2005, while he was in charge at Celtic.

But Bellamy's return to the city on Friday night saw him heap frustration on his old mentor as Strachan's first competitive game since replacing Craig Levein ended in a 2-1 defeat.

The World Cup qualifying loss kills off any hopes the Tartan Army had of reaching Brazil next summer, with Scotland now bottom of Group A with just two points from their first five games.

But Bellamy believes that, given time, Strachan can rebuild Scotland's shattered international reputation.

He said: "I have lived up here. I have played here. I know how harsh the environment is for football. And I know how harsh (the press) are.

TOUGH TASK: Gordon Strachan.

"He's going to have to have thick skin - which he does. He's managed an incredible football club like Celtic. (The press) will go for him but he will be prepared.

"For me, as a coach, he made probably one of the biggest impressions on my career, on how to play, how to move. I really learned how to play football under him.

"I owe Gordon Strachan a hell of a lot. I personally think he is the best Scottish manager out there who was available. I'm sure (Scotland) will do well with him."

Scotland struck first at Hampden through Blackburn defender Grant Hanley, but even without 25-goal Tottenham forward Gareth Bale, who limped off at halftime, Wales were able to mount a fightback.

Aaron Ramsay smashed home a powerful penalty after Scotland winger Robert Snodgrass had brought down Chris Gunter in the box.

Blunder It was the second time the Norwich wideman had collided with the Wales full-back and his spotkick blunder earned him a second yellow.

With a man advantage, Chris Coleman's men made the most of the extra room in midfield to work the ball to Andy King and he swept in a fantastic cross for Hal Robson-Kanu to nod home a second for the visitors.

Wales - still seven points behind joint group leaders Belgium and Croatia - spent the first 25 minutes knocking the ball about with such style that the 39,000-strong crowd could have been forgiven for mistaking their red shirts for those of world champions Spain.

Scotland gradually gained a foothold but were punished following Snodgrass' dismissal.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 24, 2013
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