December 5 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Norwich City defender Russell Martin believes Scotland proved their previous win over Croatia was no fluke by claiming another victory in Tuesday’s final World Cup qualifier.
Gordon Strachan’s men picked up their first three points of the campaign with a shock 1-0 win in Zagreb in June, when hopes of booking a place at Brazil next summer were already over.
This time around Croatia, boasting a strong line-up that included the likes of Luca Modric and Mario Mandzukic, were beaten 2-0 win as the Scots picked up their first home victory of the campaign.
Martin said: “We all know how good Croatia are and they had their best side out as well.
“In the summer, when we beat them, it was mentioned that they were missing some of their top players.
“But they had everyone out there in this game and I think our performance from start to finish from everyone was outstanding.
“To finish the campaign on such a high is great. The only disappointment is that it’s too little, too late.
“But, in terms of the way we finished the campaign, everyone can go into the next one extremely positive and looking forward to it.”
A play-off will determine whether Croatia book their place at next year’s finals, as head coach Igor Stimac parted company with the national team following several poor results. For Scotland, the only option now is to look ahead to qualifying for the 2016 European Championships, as they aim to end an absence from major finals stretching back to 1998.
Martin added: “We will see what the draw is. We’ve got a couple of good friendlies coming up. It’s another chance to get together and all the time the squad is getting stronger together. The belief is there in the way we want to play.
“The manager has instilled it in us in every squad so we know more and more what he wants.
“It’s all positive going forward but, at the same time, any campaign is tough regardless of your group.
“We know that and we have a realistic set of lads with realistic ambitions but we want to play in a major tournament eventually.
“It will be up to us to do it.”
Martin was particularly pleased to restrict the visitors’ own chances in front of goal.
He said: “To get two clean sheets against Croatia and two wins is excellent.”
Chris Hughton admitted Norwich’s soft centre again contributed to their downfall as Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a 5-1 Premier League win on Wednesday night at Anfield.