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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Steven Fletcher delighted with timely hat-trick

Stephen Fletcher
Stephen Fletcher

Scotland striker Steven Fletcher was full of pride after scoring his country's first hat-trick in 46 years as they brushed aside minnows Gibraltar yesterday

Fletcher, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday, had not found the net in international football since April 2009, having played for Scotland 14 times since then.

But the Sunderland frontman ended that long drought in the 29th minute as his side re-took the lead after Gibraltar had scored their first international goal.

Fletcher then struck twice late on as Scotland eventually cruised to a 6-1 triumph in their Euro 2016 Group D qualifier.

It was the first time a Scotland player had bagged a treble since Colin Stein hit four against Cyprus in 1969 and Fletcher said: "I'm happy we got the three points but obviously the three goals means a lot because it's been a while since I've scored so I'm delighted.

"Any goal for my country makes me proud but obviously getting a hat-trick is a fantastic achievement and I'll cherish it."

It was Scotland's second win in a week, having seen off Northern Ireland in a friendly on Wednesday as they bounced back from November's defeat to England.

It gives Gordon Strachan's men plenty of encouragement heading into a crunch showdown with Republic of Ireland in their next fixture in June.

"We've got a lot of confidence, great group of lads, hopefully we can take it into the summer," Fletcher added on Sky Sports 1.

The win leaves Scotland well placed on 10 points after five games and boss Strachan added: "I'm upbeat because after five games in a real hard group, to be where we are is not bad."

While it was ultimately a successful day for the Scots, they had the ignominy of being the first side to concede a goal to Gibraltar, competing in a major qualifying event for the first time.

Strachan added: "I would say that Gibraltar take all the credit. I thought they were terrific."

SCOTLAND 6 GIBRALTAR 1

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