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By ESPN Staff

Scotland's Fletcher fumes at ref after thrashing

Darren Fletcher blamed the appointment of a referee from Luxembourg for Scotland's 4-0 thumping in their World Cup qualifier in Norway.

The visitors were on top in Oslo last night before Alain Hamer booked defender Gary Caldwell twice in two minutes, sparking a dramatic collapse.

The result left Scotland's hopes of reaching next summer's finals in South Africa hanging by a thread and even wins in the final two Group Nine games against Macedonia and Holland may not be enough to secure a play-off place.

''We've suffered a 4-0 defeat that we didn't deserve,'' said Manchester United midfielder Fletcher, who captained his country last night.

''The lads played well, everyone gave it their all - but in the end the refereeing decisions have changed the game.

''That's so hard to take because you expect top referees to be in charge of games as important as this one. There's a World Cup at stake. I don't know how many big games he has to take care of every season in Luxembourg.''

Fletcher claimed there was no consistency to Hamer's performance.

''John Arne Riise had three bad tackles before he was booked,'' he said. (John) Carew had three elbows before he was booked for throwing another one into Gary Caldwell's face.

''Gary wins the ball in his first tackle of the night and he gets a yellow card for it. Then the referee forgets he's already booked him and gives him a second yellow card. That's when he realised he had to send him off.

''It was unbelievable. The bottom line is the ref got these big decisions wrong and he has cost us the game because of it.''

Goalkeeper David Marshall, making his competitive debut, helped keep the score down following Caldwell's dismissal.

He said: ''Gary sending off changed the game and then obviously them scoring from the free-kick was a double blow.

''It's a disappointing result, to say the least. We expected to do much better, but circumstances were against us.''

He added: ''I felt okay at the start, not nervous or anything. I just had to get on with it. It's a game of football and we needed everybody, and needed to get a result.

''We feel a bit hard done by. It's hard when you have to pick the ball out of your net four times.

''Obviously, when it went to 2-0 and we were down to 10 men, it was going to be a long second half.''


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