Fletcher rues past failings as Scots’ dream ends

CAPTAIN Darren Fletcher admitted Scotland should have had a World Cup play-off spot wrapped up long before last night’s defeat to Holland ended any hope of reaching next summer’s finals.

George Burley’s men went down 1-0 in their final Group Nine qualifier after a late goal from substitute Eljero Elia.

Elia found the back of the net with eight minutes remaining when David Weir inadvertently nodded the ball into his path and he sent an angled drive into the back of the net despite the efforts of Hutton on the line.

The result saw Scotland finish third behind Norway in the group.

Manchester United midfielder Fletcher said: “We should have had second place wrapped up. It’s been a disappointing campaign.

“All the players have got to take a look at themselves – it wasn’t good enough.

“We gave it one hell of an effort tonight but that effort is needed in all the games, not just tonight against Holland.”

Fletcher added: “We’ve been mightily unfortunate; we’ve had a lot of bad luck in this group. But also our performances haven’t been good enough.”

Despite his criticism, Fletcher insists Scotland deserved to get a draw tonight.

“I thought a draw was a fair scoreline. We had just as many chances as them,” said Fletcher, who also hailed the performance of goalkeeper David Marshall.

Manager George Burley was reluctant to confirm whether he wanted to continue as manager.

Asked three times if he did, he eventually answered: “I want to continue as manager of Scotland, of course I do.”

Marshall was only playing because Craig Gordon pulled out injured yesterday afternoon, but he took no solace from his outstanding personal display.

Admitting Scotland fell for a sucker-punch after pushing for a goal, he said: “We were always going to be open towards the end of the second half.

“It was just disappointing we didn’t get a bit of luck in front of goal.”

SCOTLAND: Marshall, Hutton, Weir, McManus, Whittaker, Hartley (Commons 67), Naismith, Brown, Darren Fletcher, Maloney (O’Connor 83), Miller.

HOLLAND: Vorm, Van Der Wiel, Ooijer, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, Sneijder (Van der Vaart 77), De Zeeuw, De Jong, Robben (Elia 73), van Persie (Huntelaar 84), Kuyt.

Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark).

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