Gibraltar 0-6 Scotland: Tartan Army romp to meaningless victory
Steven Fletcher celebrates with Shaun Maloney (Source Daily Mail)

Scotland recovered from the disappointment of losing out on a place at next year's European Championships in France as they put Gibraltar to the sword in Portugal, winning 6-0. 

In a match which many had labled as pointless and which may prove to be Gordon Strachan's last as Scotland boss, the Tartan Army will head back home delighted with the manner of the easy victory.  

Scotland too good for the minnows 

When all is said and done and when the Scots look back on the disappointing qualifying campagin not many will remember the wet night in Algarve.  But they produced the kind of seamless performance which merited praise.  From the first to the last minute, they swept the ball from side-to-side with ease as they looked to open up a ragged looking Gibraltar backline.  

And the team who had already conceeded a massive 50 goals in their maiden UEFA Euro qualifying campaign struggled to deal with the lung busting runs of Alan Hutton, the much maligned right back, as he continually proved too quick and too strong for the part timers. 

Much of Scotland's success in the first half came from Hutton, and they perhaps should have been leading within five minutes, as a fine Hutton run was matched by his ball to Steven Fletcher, who flicked it to Shaun Maloney, whose shot from twelve yards was disappointly close to the goalkeeper Jamie Robba - who conceded six the last time the teams met. 

The Tartan Army remained in high spirits throughout the match, as over 10000 of them chanted Gordon Strachan's name in euphoric support for their manager.  Their support would continue to be rewarded by non-stop attacking play by the Scots as they dominated. 

Gibraltar did have a rare adventure forward as Scotland struggled to put the ball in the net, as Lee Casciaro, the man who scored in the reverse fixture, picked the ball up on the halfway line, showed Scott Brown a new set of heels to take the ball 30 yards and with several Gibraltarians making runs into the box, the cross was swung in by Daniel Duarte and a goal mouth scramble was only saved by a terrific block from Gordon Greer.  It was the closest the minnows would come throughout the 90 minutes but they did produce a spirited display. 

But Scotland would remain on top throughout and almost instantly after Steven Fletcher saw an effort saved by the impressive Robba and moments later a Maloney header from a Matt Ritchie cross was acrobatically palmed away Robba once more. 

The impressive goalkeeping only seemed to be delaying the inevitable and sure enough from the resulting corner, an unmarked Chris Martin tapped in at the back post for his first Scotland goal after Gordon Greer's header had looped over a static defence. 

Soon after it should have been two, when a deliciously inviting ball by the impressive Andy Robertson from the left almost found an unmarked Steven Fletcher who seemed to be put off by the sprawling keeper as he missed the ball altogether.  Robertson, who had been poor in recent Scotland outings and needed to produce a performance did so, with his delivery constantly bewildering the Gibraltarian backline.  

But try as they might, Scotland just could not find that second goal.  Ritchie had a header cleared off the line, Fletcher hit the post after another Robertson centre and Allan McGregor remained a spectator on his 35th cap. 

However the second would finally arrive in spectacular fashion as Shaun Maloney delivered a moment of magic.  Hutton again burst through the Gibraltarian backline to square the ball and after Ritchie's volley was blocked, the ball fell to Maloney who showed all of his composure to lob the ball to the back post and over the scrambling Robba. The Scots would head into the break leading by two. 

Gibraltar concede most goals ever in qualifying campaign

Gibraltar were now on the cusp of securing the most unwanted record in the qualifiers.  Having conceded a massive fifty goals before tonight, they were now only three away from San Marino's total of 53 from the campaign for the 2010 tournament.  After 52 minutes they would be level with it. 

Hutton once more ran the length of the pitch with the ball, before hanging a delightful cross in the centre for Steven Fletcher who had all the time in the world as Joseph and Roy Chipolina watched the Sunderland striker leap for the ball and plant his header beyond the helpless Robba. 

It was proving to be Alan Hutton's best game in a Scotland shirt in recent memory as he shone throughout, setting up chance, after chance, after chance, and very nearly scored one himself as his thunderous drive brought a strong save from Robba.  

By now, the Gibraltarians were already looking tired and this showed as Scotland made it four.  A loose pass in their own half was picked up by Martin who squared the ball to Fletcher on the edge of the box and he showed his class as he rolled the ball beyond Robba and in off the post.

The record was Gibraltar's.  

As both teams began to make subs the game slowly began to die out, with the Scots happy enough to pass the ball around with some nice interchanges and not force the issue.  Gibraltar would have a few rare attacks, but every time they tired as they reached the Scottish box and either lost the ball or scuffed a shot wide.  

Johnny Russell and Darren Fletcher joined the action soon after, with the former making his first competitive appearance for Scotland.  He would instantly carve out a chance for himself but he blasted over in a shot resembling a rugby conversion more than an genuine attempt on goal. 

But it was to yet again be the night of Steven Fletcher as the much maligned striker scored his second hat trick of the campaign, against the same opposition, as he curled home a superb effort from outside the box, evocitave of his goal on Thursday against Poland.  Having become the first Scot to score a hat trick since Colin Stein in the 60's, Fletcher would take his goals tally up to eight for his country with his second.  

The romp would be complete in the 89th minute, when sub Steven Naismith combined well with Steven Fletcher inside the box before cooly slotting the ball past a frustrated Robba who didn't deserve to be on the end of such a hammering. 

Scotland ended their qualifying campaign with the much expected win in a manner befitting a team vastly superior to their opponents.  But having failed to qualify for the ninth major tournament in a row, it was eighteen years to the day since they last achieved such a feat, the campaign will be remembered as another Scottish failure and the night in Gibraltar will be barely remember at all. 

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