Monday, September 24, 2018

Gibraltar 0 Scotland 6: Fletcher hat-trick seals comfortable win

SoccerNews in European Championships 11 Oct 2015


Steven Fletcher-inspired Scotland finished their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a flourish as they thrashed minnows Gibraltar 6-0 in Group D on Sunday.

A Fletcher hat-trick plus goals from Chris Martin, Shaun Maloney and Steven Naismith sealed the straightforward win in Faro, leaving Gordon Strachan’s side – who already knew they could not qualify for France next year following a heartbreaking draw against Poland on Thursday – in fourth place in the group with 15 points.

After Fletcher had wasted a handful of chances for the visitors, it was Derby County forward Martin who broke the deadlock with his first international goal.

Maloney added a second just before the break with a well-taken finish and Fletcher finally found the back of the net after the restart with a powerful header before doubling his tally with a neat low finish. 

Substitute Johnny Russell and Fletcher both saw chances to add a fifth go begging, while Scotland’s defenders enjoyed a comfortable night with very little to do.

With five minutes remaining, Fletcher grabbed his second hat-trick against Gibraltar with an emphatic finish. Substitute Naismith added a sixth in stoppage time to seal Scotland’s fourth win of the campaign.

As expected, Scotland dominated proceedings and created a flurry of chances in the opening 20 minutes, but found Jamie Robba in fine form in the Gibraltar goal.

Fletcher created the first opening for Maloney inside three minutes, but the Hull City forward was unable to acrobatically turn the ball home.

Fletcher was proving a real thorn in Gibraltar’s side and should have broken the deadlock in the eighth minute from Alan Hutton’s cross, but his header looped over.

Robba was fighting a lone battle as he again denied Maloney and Fletcher before Scotland’s pressure finally told after 25 minutes, Martin nodding home Gordon Greer’s looping flick-on from close range.

Matt Ritchie then saw a back-post header cleared off the line by Roy Chipolina before Fletcher wasted a third opportunity as he turned Martin’s low cross onto the post.

As half-time loomed, Strachan’s men did double their advantage as Maloney curled a sublime effort into the top-right corner, leaving Robba stranded.

Gibraltar – who struggled to create a single chance in the opening half – were back under pressure from the restart and Fletcher added a third with a powerful header past Robba from Hutton’s cross.

The Sunderland striker netted again four minutes later as Martin’s pass opened up room inside the penalty area and Fletcher made no mistake as he placed his shot out of Robba’s reach.

Strachan introduced Russell just after the hour for his competitive debut and he went close to capping it with a goal, but the fifth goal eventually came as Fletcher added his third.

The 28-year-old was given time to turn and shoot on the edge of the penalty area and he nonchalantly lashed the ball past Robba.

There was still time for one more goal as Naismith found the bottom corner following a one-two with the impressive Fletcher.


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