Darren Fletcher: Scotland captain urges team to finish job after Slovakia win

Scotland players
Darren Fletcher (far right) sustained an ear gash in Scotland's 1-0 win over Slovakia

Captain Darren Fletcher urged Scotland to maintain their momentum in Sunday's "massive" final World Cup qualifier in Slovenia.

The Scots beat Slovakia 1-0 on Thursday to go second in Group F, with England beating Slovenia to win the section.

Victory on Sunday will secure Scotland the runners-up place and the chance of reaching the play-offs for next year's finals in Russia.

"We've only done half the job," said Fletcher, 33.

"We're going into the game in Slovenia in great confidence and it's all down to that last game and a position that we'd have taken a long time ago, but we've still got to go out there and get the performance and the result that sees us over the line.

"You have many massive games in your career and this is another one.

"That momentum's definitely in our favour just now. We've just got to see it over for one last game but then we've got a play-off after that so there's still a long way to go.

Slovakia's Martin Skrtel scores an own goal to give Scotland victory
Martin Skrtel was the unfortunate scorer as Scotland triumphed

"It's not an easy game to go to Slovenia but it's in our hands, that's all you can ask for. We know what we've got to do.

"We believe in ourselves. We're full of confidence. No matter what players play, we've got a good squad. All these things are coming together. We're patient."

That patience proved important as Scotland were held 0-0 by 10-man Slovakia until the 89th-minute, when Martin Skrtel scored an own goal under pressure from Chris Martin following a cross by Martin's fellow substitute Ikechi Anya.

Visiting forward Robert Mak had been sent off midway through the first half for two bookings, the second for simulation.

Leigh Griffiths and Martin fired against the crossbar and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka made an outstanding save from Christophe Berra and also kept out Griffiths and James Morrison.

"A great performance," said Fletcher. "Even against 10 men it's not easy and we created so many chances.

"Their goalkeeper's had one of those nights but we kept believing, we didn't give in and we went right till the end and got a well deserved goal that keeps the dream alive."

Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka makes a save against Scotland
Dubravka was in inspired form against Scotland

Fletcher won his 79th cap at Hampden and took over from injured Scott Brown as skipper, having not played in the previous four qualifiers.

The Stoke City midfielder, who has had extended spells out with ulcerative colitis, has been involved in seven unsuccessful qualification campaigns and also missed the 2009 Champions League final with Manchester United due to suspension.

"I'm probably the one who's experienced a lot more heartaches if you like and been so close in those last games that have gone against us," Fletcher said.

"I'm not getting any younger. There's not too many chances left so it's vitally important, but it means just as much to the rest of the lads as it does to me.

"It means as much to everybody, it means as much to the whole country, I'm just a small part in that.

"You've got to get a fine balance between making sure that we're calm and we believe in ourselves and we're not going over there going crazy.

"You don't want to concede goals, you've got to stay in the game. You have to be wary of all these things. You can be too up for it as well. You see that with Slovakia tonight - red cards, yellow cards. Referees are capable of anything so we keep calm heads, keep doing what we've been doing and we'll see how we go."

My Scotland starting XI

Who would you have in your Scotland starting XI for the game against Slovenia?

Top Stories