Scotland 1 Italy 1

When Kenny Miller walks back into the Wolves dressing room after his tour of duty with Scotland, there won't be any of the usual jibes about his nation's performance.

Because, while his colleagues would have been working on set-piece routines and defending corners on the training pitch, Miller was single-handedly terrorising the legendary £43 million Italian centre half partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro.

To say Miller's performance was crowd pleasing is insufficient - he was the very definition of the phrase.

Okay, this wasn't Jim Baxter tormenting England in 1967 but his endeavour, strength and skill - all displayed as a sole striker battling against one of the world's greatest defences - was phenomenal.

In the 68th minute, Miller's persistence and battling brought 52,000 Hampden fans to their feet, delighted as their No 9 fought off tackle after tackle to retain precious possession for a Scotland team who were beginning to tire.

Glasgow fans like it when their players get stuck in about the opposition - that's why there are about another fifteen phrases for that very act - and especially when it is against footballing showponies like the Italians.

But it was Miller's 12th minute goal that turned up the gas in an already crackling Hampden Park.

It was a sublime downward header fashioned by outstanding build up play by the Scots, working the ball from left to right in an arc around the Italian box before a pinpoint Paul Hartley cross was met by the implausible head of Miller - implausible because it rose first and highest in the company of Nesta and Cannavaro.

The transfer-listed Wolves striker has started the season well for club and country.

What a change from the end of last season when a dreadful miss against the Italians in Milan was heavily criticized and he was also handing in a request to escape yet another disappointing Wolverhampton league campaign.

If Scotland fans were dumbfounded by the newly-beefed-up and committed Miller, so indeed were the Italians.

In the post-match press conference, Marcello Lippi made a point of praising the player.

"We were very surprised with the performance of Miller. He played very well."

Lippi could have easily said his centre-halfs, illustrious world beaters after all, should never have allowed themselves to be dominated by Kenny Miller.

But, while that would have been fair comment, it would have done the former Rangers and Hibs man a massive disservice.

When any game boasting Christian Vieri, Francesco Totti and Andrea Pirlo leaves the crowd with the attacking prowess of a Scot at the forefront of their minds, it is something special. It was Miller's day.

The 25-year-old, who has now scored four goals in 22 appearances for Scotland, was modest about his performance - so definitely not a Jim Baxter-style hero just yet.

"Fortunately in the last two games I have managed to score, in the two games previous to that I didn't. But it was sweet to score against teams like Italy, when you are playing against guys like Cannavaro and Nesta."

Miller reserved some praise for Glenn Hoddle, his manager at Molineux, who has been working with the striker on his movement in the penalty area.

"I am sure he'll be happy with that one," he said of the goal.

Ever since Scotland attacking coach Ally McCoist hung up his international boots, the international side has been bereft of a reliable and regular goalscorer.

Through the disappointing Berti Vogts years, back to the workmanlike Craig Brown sides of the 1990s, there was never a poacher to turn decent team performances into results.

Scotland is still waiting for the next Dennis Law and Kenny Dalglish but in Miller, perhaps the nation has found someone as effective as McCoist was.

He too was somewhat of a late developer and it wasn't until he hit his mid- to late-20s that he began racking up goals for Rangers and Scotland.

Now the two are working together at international level, Scotland fans will be hoping the potential similarities grow.

Scotland manager Walter Smith told journalists that Miller's performance was "typical" of the the application his entire team is showing these days.

True enough and it was entirely understandable that Smith would want to make sure players like Darren Fletcher, Paul Hartley and Wolves defender Jackie McNamara got their deserved credit.

But by only praising Miller alongside the rest of the team, Smith was making a deeper point.

A committed team display against superior opposition is all for nothing without a striker who can make the few chances that come along count for something.

Scotland have had enough of hard luck stories and in Kenny Miller, who took the only clear cut chance their team created on Saturday afternoon, they have a striker capable of ensuring the whole team gets its just rewards.