The Scotland manager, Gordon Strachan, admitted Gibraltar made his life a “misery” after shocking the hosts with their first ever competitive goal on Sunday.
The minnows left the Hampden Park crowd in stunned silence as Lee Casciaro cancelled out Shaun Maloney’s spot-kick opener just two minutes after he had put Scotland 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, 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.
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Casciaro will now take his place in the record books – and as Strachan pointed out, so will the man he beat.
The Scotland manager 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 for ever 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 goalkeeper Jamie Robba brought him down after 18 minutes. But Gibraltar hit back with a stunning counter move from which Casciaro coolly steered 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 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. 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.”Reuse content