I Had To Take It: Fletcher
Darren Fletcher stepped up to shoulder the responsibility and is big enough to cope with the disappointment of missing the penalty. Darren Fletcher felt he had to be the one to take responsibility for taking the penalty on Tuesday night. The miss could have cost Scotland a win over Lithuania but Fletcher's blushes were saved by Steven Naismith's goal early in the second half. Fletcher looked on in horror as his effort was saved by goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas. As captain, Fletcher was determined not to put any youngsters in the position he ultimately found himself in, with so much at stake in the must-win game. He said: "There were a lot of young boys in the squad who wanted to take it but I felt, as captain, the responsibility should come to me. I missed the penalty but I can deal with that. If it was one of the younger players who missed the penalty, and it might have cost us three points, it would have been a hard one. So, as captain, I felt I should take the responsibility and unfortunately I didn't score it. These things happen. It's important how you respond. You've just got to keep playing and I didn't let my head go down. I knew the lads were playing some good football and I knew in the second half that if we kept playing in the right way the chances would come. It was just important that we took one and we managed to do that." One player full of confidence to take on the job of penalty taker was Barry Bannan, who helped win the spot-kick when his free-kick was handled in the box by Tadas Labukas. The Aston Villa midfielder may have been denied a goal on the night but he marked his first competitive start with a man of the match performance and a standing ovation from the Hampden crowd. Fletcher said: "He is going to be one for the future. He is in the squad just now so not only is he one for the future, but he is ready to play now and he has shown that. He proved that last night and he is a fantastic player and he gives us something different. He's got a lot of arrogance on the ball, he looks for the killer pass and he plays some great passes over the defence and he makes things happen for us. He was fantastic throughout the game. Even when he tried something and it didn't come off, he didn't let his head go down." Scotland are now two points behind the Czech Republic with two games to go, as both sides hope to win a coveted play-off spot in Group I. Fletcher said: "It was a win and that's what we came into the game to get. Obviously, it should have been more comfortable than what it was. With it only being 1-0, they threw player after player forward and a lot of high balls into the box and it was a little bit nervy towards the end. But we managed to see it out and we got the three points we came for. We had to win. There is no point handing it to the Czech Republic - let them go and earn it. We would feel even worse if we knew they had slipped up twice and we weren't in a position to take advantage. We keep fighting while it's still possible. We started with this game and now we move on to Liechtenstein." The Manchester United midfielder came through both EURO2012 games after recovering from a virus and has now set his sights on the daunting task of forcing his way back into Sir Alex Ferguson's plans. He said: "I feel fine. I said coming up to the games that my fitness wasn't a problem and I think I have proved that over the two 90 minutes. I feel good and I'm ready to go back to my club now and somehow get back into that team. I don't think I'll walk into the team but I'm ready to play. The team are performing so well just now so I don't think the manager will be making too many changes. I've got to be patient and wait for my chance but I've been in that situation before and I know what it's all about. It's a squad game and there will be plenty of games so I'll be patient and keep myself fit and ready for when I'm called upon."
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