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Football: MAGIC MARKER; Pearson debut dream as Vogts tells him to stick on star Seedorf.

Byline: By COLIN DUNCAN

STEPHEN PEARSON thought he was only in the Scotland squad for the experience then Berti Vogts sent him on to mark Clarence Seedorf.

The Motherwell midfielder admits he couldn't believe it when Vogts handed him a full international debut in the most important match of his two-year reign.

Pearson's introduction against one of the best players in Europe with 19 minutes remaining was an indication of the faith the national team boss has in the youngsters at his disposal.

James McFadden and Darren Fletcher repaid Vogts' belief with two virtuoso performances and Pearson, who came within inches of grabbing a second goal, can feel proud of his cameo role near the end. He said: ``It doesn't get any better than this. I thought I was only in the squad for experience but it was a dream come true to get on.

``Berti just told me to go on and play against Seedorf. It was a great team performance and I'm delighted for Berti because he's been criticised in the past.

``It was daunting coming into the game against Seedorf as I've watched him on TV for years and I know he's a world-class player.

``But there was nothing to lose and the result has now given us a great chance to qualify.''

Meanwhile, Dutch striker Pierre van Hooijdonk revealed his frustration at watching his country blow a host of clear-cut chances at Hampden.

The former Celtic front man, now with Fenerbahce in Istanbul, had to watchfrom the bench as Ruud van Nistelrooy, Patrick Kluivert and second-half substitute RoyMakaay drew a blank. He said: ``It's disappointing because the one thing we didn't want here was to lose, but second of all wewanted to score a goal.

``We misseda lot of chances and it cost us dearly because we got chances and failed to take them.

``I'm still very confident we can go on to win.

``It'll be more difficult now but we showed that although we lost 1-0 we still created a lot of opportunities.

``I cannot see us missing so many chances again.

``It is frustrating. Everybody, even you sitting in the stand, will say, aeIf I had got that opportunity I would have scored'.''

Despite his team-mates' failure to find the net, van Hooijdonk is not optimistic about his chances of playing in the crunch return leg on Wednesday.

He said: ``I hope to play. I always hope to play, but from the start, I doubt it.''

CAPTION(S):

DREAM DEBUT: Pearson; HOLL OVER: Pearson shuts down Clarence Seedorf
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 17, 2003
Words:424
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Next Article:Football: UNDERDOGS OFWAR; ONE FOOT IN THE ALGARVE: Raw courage and desire gave us a famous win now we must do it all again in Holland.


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