Robert Snodgrass: Croats punished for lack of respect

BABY BOOMER: Robert Snodgrass celebrates his goal against Croatia with team-mate Barry Bannan. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

BABY BOOMER: Robert Snodgrass celebrates his goal against Croatia with team-mate Barry Bannan. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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ROBERT SNODGRASS today insisted that Croatia boss Igor Stimac was made to pay for negative comments he made about Scotland.

Snodgrass and Steven Naismith were on the scoresheet as Scotland recorded a 2-0 victory – and an unexpected double – over the country that finished second in Group A.

Norwich forward Snodgrass revealed that it was reading what the Croatians had to say about them in the build-up to the match that spurred Scotland on to the win.

Since Gordon Strachan took charge of the national side in January, there has been a real upturn in performances and results. They have taken nine points from their last four matches and the display against Croatia was one of the best at Hampden in some time.

Snodgrass reckoned there was a reason for that and said: “I think that before the game there was a lot of cheap talk from the Croatians and a lot of different things were said.

“You need to show your opponents respect. They didn’t do that, but I think there is only one team laughing now.”

Snodgrass scored the opener for Scotland and he could have doubled their advantage just a couple of minutes later, only for his low shot to be touched on to the base of the post by Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.

While he was pleased with his goal, he was even more so for team-mate Naismith, who won his 25th cap last night and scored Scotland’s second goal.

The Everton and former Rangers player was given a special presentation by Strachan before kick-off to mark the occasion and Snodgrass added: “It was a great performance from the team, from everyone involved – even the subs who came on were different class.

“And I was really pleased for Steven Naismith, I thought that he topped his award for 25 international caps off nicely with a great goal and I thought that the back four were solid.”

It has been a massive week for Snodgrass who, just a few days ago, welcomed his second daughter into the world.

The player was given special dispensation to have a couple of extra days off to make sure he was there for the birth and Snodgrass was delighted to give something back to the coaching staff who have gone out of their way to make sure that the week was as smooth as possible for him and his wife.

“It was nice to get on the scoresheet,” he admitted, “although that wasn’t the main aim for me. I just wanted to do well to repay the backroom staff who stuck with me through the birth of my daughter and gave me that extra couple of days off so that I could be there for her birth.

“Obviously that was nice and I’m delighted to round the week off by getting the three points.”

Snodgrass feels that the Scotland squad are playing with a renewed confidence, thanks to Strachan’s influence and says that it is perhaps time for the supporters to dare to show the same kind of belief.

Scotland haven’t reached a major finals since 1998 and despite missing out on a trip to Brazil this time around 
Snodgrass is hoping that the drought will come to an end soon. “The manager has given everyone that belief – and particularly the back four the belief – that they can keep clean sheets,” he said.

“We are competing with the best in the world and it is great for everyone to see that we are progressing and I think that we are looking forward to the Euro campaign and we can be genuinely excited.”

In theory, there was nothing at stake last night but clearly, the Scotland players felt differently. Right from the first whistle they were beating the Croatians to almost every ball, while Snodgrass, Charlie Mulgrew, Grant Hanley and Naismith fought for everything.

The result, Scotland’s first home win of the campaign, moved them above Wales and into fourth place in Group A, on 11 points, and Snodgrass added: “Every game means something to every single one of the players and the backroom staff.

“You could tell it meant a lot to the fans, too. They were different class. As soon as we got the goal they were willing us on, hoping that we would give them even more to cheer about and, thankfully, we did that.”