Scotland smash Gibraltar for six again after another Fletcher hat-trick
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | October 12, 2015
This match between the only two British and Irish nations not to at least reach the Euro 2016 qualifying play-offs was effectively a dead rubber, but fans and players certainly made sure passion was rife throughout the encounter.
In Gibraltar’s adopted home in Faro, Portugal, they put up a spirited display against their visitors in search of their first competitive points at the last attempt, but eventually succumbed to a 6-0 defeat.
It was Scotland’s Steven Fletcher who was the scourge of the minnows once again, following his hat-trick in the reverse fixture, as he matched that feat here too, but he knows he should’ve got more.
The Scots predictably had the first effort in the fourth minute, as it was Fletcher that broke free out wide, but his cross was awkward for Shaun Maloney who scuffed just over the bar.
Sunderland striker Fletcher had a chance of his own just a few minutes later, but his header was too high. While Maloney came close soon after again, but his low shot was saved by the legs of France-based Gibraltar keeper Jamie Robba.
Gibraltar natives getting into the spirit pre-game…
Gordon Strachan’s men nearly had a scare at the other end in the 16th minute, with goalscorer in Hampden Park Lee Casciaro making a great run which ended in a scramble in the box. However, most-capped GFA player Joseph Chipolina couldn’t get a good enough touch on it; while Liam Walker finished the passage of play by curling just over.
Fletcher soon had another great opportunity to break the deadlock, and again Robba was equal to it to keep his side in the game. It was a far improved performance by the 23-year-old overall compared to rival stopper Jordan Perez against Georgia.
Robba showcased his reactions once more in the 24th minute to save brilliantly from a close Maloney header, but the Tartan team finally found a way past him from the resulting corner.
This time there was nothing he could do, as Gordon Greer’s towering header looped goalward, which Chris Martin finished off.
Fletcher just couldn’t find the net in the first-half, as with 10 minutes to go he could only hit the woodwork. But Maloney finally did, and in style, as he cooly curled past Robba in the 39th minute to make it 2-0.
Gibraltar produced a better and more organised showing after the break, but could still not prevent goals going in.
Striker Fletcher was finally on target seven minutes into the second-half, nodding in from close range from Alan Hutton’s cross and, like London buses, he doubled his tally almost immediately, caressing it past the keeper.
Derby County duo Martin and Johnny Russell combined in an attempt to extend their lead, and the latter could and should have scored in the 66th minute but was high and wide.
GFA’s main man Walker came close to getting his side’s first competitive ‘home’ goal with 15 minutes to go, but was just wide from long range.
Fletcher, much the topic of this match, completed his second hat-trick against Gibraltar and of the qualifying campaign in style, by smashing past the keeper.
While Fletcher did eventually find the net in this match, Russell couldn’t get his first for his country, and at the death Robba kept his focus to make a good reaction save.
But Steven Naismith rounded off the scoring in injury time to give the visitors a credible 6-0 win, which at half-time perhaps didn’t seem possible.