Scotland's slender hopes of a play‑off place for Euro 2012 were helped by this victory. Amid jittery closing moments from the hosts at Hampden Park, the same could not be said for Craig Levein's blood pressure.

After the wounding circumstances of Saturday's draw with the Czech Republic, Levein finally earned some meaningful reward for the progress the manager insists has occurred over the past year.

Yet it was done the hard way; after dominating the vast majority of this encounter, Scotland were hemmed in by Lithuania as the seconds ticked down.

The failure of Linas Pilibaitis to cleanly connect with a volley, 12 yards from the Scottish goal, saved Levein's blushes.

Given this win was only Scotland's second in Group I, their nerves were understandable. Another two victories – plus favours from others – will probably be needed for the Scots to clinch a play‑off berth.

For now, Levein can take comfort from the fact that success against Liechtenstein in their next match is guaranteed to keep Scotland in that hunt until the final match in Spain. "The one criticism I would have is that we weren't clinical enough in front of goal, which made our job a little bit more difficult," said Levein.

The manager added that he had been "annoyed" by the "furore" he claims has followed the Czech result.

The Scotland captain, Darren Fletcher, can rest easy after his team survived the missing of a first-half penalty by the Manchester United midfielder. It was an inauspicious way for Fletcher to celebrate his 55th cap, with which he matched Denis Law's Scotland record.

It seemed poetic that Lithuania were the visitors to Hampden, just three days after a dive by Jan Rezek earned a crucial penalty for the Czechs at the same venue. It was here in 2007 that Lithuania's Saulius Mikoliunas performed a similar act of penalty box simulation, earning him a much-publicised two-game ban.

"I would rather be in a better position, I am still angry with what happened on Saturday," Levein said. "We had done everything we needed to do to win that game and it was taken out of our hands."

Three players – Don Cowie, Barry Bannan and David Goodwillie – made a first competitive start for the Scots as a combination of injury and suspension struck elsewhere. Bannan proved to be Scotland's most enterprising player in the early exchanges. A corner from the Aston Villa midfielder fell for Christophe Berra, who blazed wide at the back post. It set a tone. Cowie wasted the hosts' next chance, the midfielder unable to find the target with a half-volley from 12 yards.

Fletcher was still to pass up the finest chance of all, just before half‑time. Tadas Labukas handled in allowing Scotland the spot-kick, with Fletcher's tame effort beaten away by Zydrunas Karcemarskas.

It was no surprise Bannan was the architect of the goal, as he picked out Naismith; the Rangers man fired home with the aid of a post. Frantic, but not damaging, moments were to follow for the Scots.