Wales vs. Scotland  2 - 1

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Bale hopes win over Scotland will ´inspire´ Wales

13 October 2012 02:10

Gareth Bale hopes Wales' 2-1 victory over Scotland will kick-start their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Chris Coleman's side had failed to obtain a single point from their first two matches, but a double from the winger - the second a stunning drive from 25 yards - aided his side to a vital three points.

Wales face a tough test in their next encounter against Croatia on Tuesday evening, and the Tottenham man has emphasised the importance Friday's victory.

"We needed it to kick-start our campaign, and I hope it inspires us," he told Sky Sports after the match.

"We all knew coming into the game that it was a massive game for us. We had a disappointing result against Serbia and we let ourselves and the fans down.

"We went 1-0 down (against Scotland) but showed character and fought back like men."

Coleman firmly believes his side deserved to take all three points at the Cardiff City Stadium despite relying on two goals in the final nine minutes to clinch the win.

"To come away with nothing would have been a travesty," he said.

"Scotland scored against run of play. We were brave, we got caught once or twice, but we moved the ball around well.

"We could have gone in (at half-time) and felt sorry for ourselves, but didn't. We came out and kept going and chipping away second half. Our players got what they deserved."

Scotland manager Craig Levein, however, felt that the visitors deserved to take the points, not least because of the referees' controversial decision to disallow a Steven Fletcher goal.

"One-nil was a difficult score but I did not feel under pressure. I am amazed to have come in and lost, as during the match I didn't feel we were under any real threat," he said.

"I've not seen the Fletcher goal, but I believe officials got it wrong. As the game panned out that was absolutely crucial, not getting it was a real body blow."

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Coleman feeling Wales pressure

12 October 2012 16:00

Chris Coleman knows the heat is on as Wales struggle under his leadership, but is confident of taking points off Scotland.

Coleman took over from the late Gary Speed in January and acknowledges the manner in which he gained the position was less than ideal.

After a 6-1 humbling to Serbia last month, former Fulham and Coventry manager Coleman believes Wales can turn their fortunes around, starting against Scotland on Friday.

"I'm more relaxed in this camp than I was in others because now I'm doing things I want to do," he told reporters.

"I've been a manager for 10 years but never an international manager and this job is new territory for me. I've been under pressure before as a manager and come through it.

"You can try someone else's jacket on but if it doesn't fit, you can't keep wearing it. It's never too late to change things."

Coleman initially attempted to keep Speed's pre-match preparations in place but has now decided to implement his own plans, starting with Ashley Williams replacing Aaron Ramsey as the national captain.

"The changes we've made are subtle changes, mainly. When you have 10 days in a camp, it's quite intense," he said.

"You eat together three times a day, watch videos of your own performance and the opposition, assess personal performances and then have training sessions.

"I've just reshuffled all of that. It's tough because a lot of the things being done were good things but they were someone else's."

With two defeats from their opening two qualifiers, Wales find themselves bottom of Group A and Coleman admits he has been feeling the pressure - but will not use it as an excuse for poor results.

"Speaking honestly, yes, I have felt inhibited," he said.

"I've never been in this situation before and never again expect to be. I'm also mindful of making excuses.

"We've played five games, we've lost and I'm the manager, which is where the buck stops. Now I'm changing things, with a game on Friday where we need a reaction from the players and a result.

"They are all tough games and they are even tougher when you have lost two and been hammered, letting in six.

"I can handle the pressure and I believe the players are good enough. If we get it right, there's no reason why we can't get three points."

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Fletcher excited for Scotland return

12 October 2012 14:34

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher said he's excited ahead of his Scotland return against Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

The Scot has not played for his country since November and spent 11 months out of the game with ulcerative colitis, but the 28-year-old is thankful to be fit again and is confident he can be an integral player for club and country providing he can avoid injury.

"I want to play everything down about coming back and being an inspiration to people. For the time being I'm back and that's all I can ask for. I still have to fight it every day and that's not going to change," Fletcher told The Sun.

"But I'm capable of playing in both games against Wales and in Belgium on Tuesday. It won't be a problem for me as long as I don't pick up an injury.

"Just to be sitting here in the team hotel the night before the game, it almost feels like I'm starting out all over again.

"I've got a lot more experience and there are things I know how to handle now but, in terms of my excitement levels, it feels like I'm about to win my first cap all over again."

Fletcher's battle with the condition is not over though, with the Scot revealing every day is a struggle but one worth fighting.

"It never goes away and that's the thing I have to live with now," he added.

"I have to watch my diet and take certain medication or it could come back again. It's a battle every day. I'm never going to be 100 per cent and that's something I must live with for the rest of my life."

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´Stubborn´ Levein under pressure, says Brown

10 October 2012 15:11

Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown said Scotland manager Craig Levein is under pressure going in to Friday's World Cup 2014 clash in Cardiff.

Chris Coleman has failed to win either of his first two qualifiers as Wales boss, but Brown believes the Scottish press and supporters have put more pressure on their national team manager after Levein's men drew both of their opening qualifiers.

"The only manager under pressure is Craig Levein," the 30-year-old on-loan Aberdeen goalkeeper told BBC Sport.

"I live in Scotland. You see the press there. You hear the supporters."

He also views Levein's decision to recall exiled striker Steven Fletcher as a sign of the pressure getting to the manager.

"The manager stuck by his guns and (has) been stubborn for long time," he added.

"All of a sudden he has gone back on that."

Coleman's Wales have not picked up a point from their first two games after defeats at home to Belgium and away to Serbia, but Brown defended his beleaguered boss, who took over the national reins after the tragic passing of former manager Gary Speed.

"He has taken over in extremely tough circumstances," he said.

"Gary Speed was so influential on the squad with the players.

"So as players, we are fully behind the manager. To be fair, everyone has just got on with that it, nothing's been made of it. The manager makes decisions. That's what he is, the manager. We stick by whatever he does."

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Adam offers olive branch to Bale

10 October 2012 14:59

Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam has called for a truce with Wales winger Gareth Bale ahead of their World Cup qualifying clash on Friday.

The Stoke midfielder had already previously caused Bale to be out for three months in 2011, when he caught him with a late challenge in a pre-season friendly while still at Liverpool over the summer.

The Spurs attacker branded Adam a 'coward' after the game, but the 26-year-old insisted the incident should be left in the past.

"What happened in the past has happened. I apologised to him during the (pre-season) game, after a corner," Adam told reporters.

"I said to (Bale) I was sorry and thought everything was alright. I also apologised to the manager of Tottenham at half-time.

"Then all of a sudden I was being called a coward. That's football and it won't stop me tackling and trying to be the player I am. I hope it is done and dusted now."