Strachan heaps praise on Gibraltar

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Published: Monday 30th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Scotland boss Gordon Strachan admitted Gibraltar made his life a “misery” after shocking the hosts with their first ever competitive goal at Hampden.

The minnows left a 34,255-strong crowd in stunned silence as Lee Casciaro cancelled out Shaun Malloney’s spot-kick opener just a minute after he had put the Dark Blues ahead.

It was everything UEFA’s newest member nation deserved as they bravely pushed forward against Strachan’s ultra-attacking 3-2-5 line-up.

Thankfully for the Scots, though, Steven Fletcher went on to complete the first hat-trick by a Dark Blues player in 46 years as another Maloney penalty plus Steven Naismith’s strike earned them a 6-1 triumph.

But it will remain a special day for Gibraltar. Only given the green light to take part in international competition three years ago, they had failed to find the net in their first four Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Casciaro will now take his place in the record books – and as Strachan pointed out, so will the man he beat.

He said: “All the credit should really go to Gibraltar. They made my life a misery for periods of that game.

“Allan McGregor and Craig Gordon now love me for not picking them. They are not in the history books.

“Unfortunately David Marshall has got his name against that forever now and he will be in quiz questions everywhere.

“I got a wee fright when they scored. It was partly down to us though. We spent all week working on attacking width. We fell asleep, taking it for granted that they would not attack and they did.

“We were caught walking out when we should have been walking back the way.

“So that made it an interesting couple of minutes.”

Maloney put the Scots ahead from 12-yards after keeper Jamie Robba brought him down after 17 minutes. But Gibraltar hit back with a stunning counter move that saw Casciaro camly steer past Marshall.

Fletcher calmed fraying tartan nerves when he headed his side back in front before Maloney again netted with a penalty.

Naismith gave the hosts a three-goal cushion at the break, while Fletcher then became the first Scot since Colin Stein in 1969 to net a treble on international duty with two late strikes.

The victory keeps the Strachan’s side in the hunt for next year’s finals in France with 10 points from five games.

“I should also say well done to the players, because there were guys who personally weren’t having a great game but they stuck at it,” added Strachan.

“No-one got booked, which I liked. We created some nice chances and it was nice to see Steven Fletcher scoring a hat-trick.

“It was ironic because I was here when Colin Stein scored four. That was a long time and a few stone ago.

“Some of his touches were lovely today. I was wanting more balls played through for him, Maloney and Naismith but we played square too many times, so I was a wee bit disappointed at times. But it is not easy.”

Strachan left fans scratching their heads before kick-off when he named a side featuring Russell Martin as the only recognised centre-half.

It cost the Scots their shut-out as Russell missed a header in the build-up to Casciaro’s goal, meaning Andrew Robertson had to squeeze into the centre of the park while leaving space out wide for Gibraltar to exploit.

“It brought us four goals but I was expecting that system to work a lot better than that,” admitted Strachan. “Their goal threw us a bit.

“In the first 10 minutes we gave away the ball about eight or nine times. That’s too much at international level, no matter who you are playing against.

“If we had woke up this morning to be told we’d score six we’d have taken that. We don’t like the one against us but that’s the way football works sometimes.

“We’ve got 10 points which we are all happy with. We can now go into the second half of this group feeling happy about ourselves.”

Gibraltar’s Scottish-born manager David Wilson said: “That moment when we scored our first goal at this level I went through every emotion. It was brilliant, the whole day was.

“We had come to make history by scoring a goal and we did it. Listen, we knew the feeling we had then wouldn’t last, but while it did it was amazing.”

Published: Monday 30th March 2015 by The News Editor

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