Belfast Telegraph

Gutsy display gives Scots cause to hope

By Ronnie Esplin

Darren Fletcher remains optimistic about Scotland's European Championship qualification prospects despite the 2-1 defeat to Germany in Dortmund.

The World Cup winners dominated the first-half and were worthy of a 1-0 interval lead thanks to Thomas Muller's header.

Gordon Strachan's side came out energised and purposeful after the break and deservedly levelled in the 66th minute through wide-man Ikechi Anya to send the thousands of Tartan Army foot soldiers inside the impressive Signal Iduna Park into raptures.

That joy was short-lived, however, when Muller soon restored the home side's lead as he took advantage of slack defending in the Scots' penalty area to slam the ball in from close range.

Disappointed to be replaced by James McArthur before the equaliser, Scotland skipper Fletcher said: "The manager made the changes. He's got players who have performed for him in the past and he felt like he needed a change and it worked because we came into the game a lot more."

Indeed, Fletcher saw enough both on and off the park after the break to give him hope ahead of the visit of Georgia to Ibrox next month and for the rest of the Group D campaign.

"If we take that performance into other games then I am sure we will be fine. We can't be disheartened, we knew that would be the most difficult game in the group so let's try to get some points on the board".

If few people believed Scotland had any chance of beating the Germans, expectation will be different when Georgia visit Glasgow. Fletcher, however, refused to accept that match falls into the must-win category.

"I don't know if it is must win yet but it's important that we get three points on the board as quickly as possible."

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