sport

Strachan pleased with Scotland

Gordon Strachan felt Scotland produced their best attacking display to date under his management as they drew 2-2 with Nigeria in Wednesday's friendly at Craven Cottage.

Having replaced Craig Levein 16 months ago, Strachan has overseen an impressive upturn in fortunes at the helm.

Scotland have risen to 22nd in the FIFA rankings and, while they will again be frustrated observers again during the World Cup, their performance against African champions Nigeria highlighted that improvement.

A late leveller denied the Tartan Army victory in west London but that could not wipe the smile off Strachan's face after the improved attacking display he called for materialised.

"In terms of positive play, that is as a good as it gets," he said.

"I think we have been terrific in terms of being a unit and making sure nobody scores against us and have few chances.

"But I think overall there was a bit of flow tonight, flair and imagination which I liked, against a top side. I mean, they are a real top side."

Scotland took the lead after just 10 minutes in west London through Charlie Mulgrew's intelligent, if fluky, flick, only for much-changed Nigeria to level as Michael Uchebo's strike deflected home off Grant Hanley.

Strachan's side went back ahead through Azubuike Egwuekwe's own goal, only for substitute Uche Nwofor's last-gasp sucker-punch to deny Scotland victory.

"I liked a lot of things I saw there," Strachan said. "I think the only thing we had a problem with was that some of the lads have not trained for three weeks.

"Most of them have been on holiday somewhere but I am not saying they haven't been looking after themselves.

"To try and switch on, which they did at training, I thought was terrific but I just thought we lost a wee bit of fitness near the last 15 minutes.

"I thought during the game we were pass away from a great move, which could have ended up with four or five goals. I think that is the first time I have said that."

The entertaining 2-2 draw was a welcome distraction to the pre-match talk of match-fixing.

Reports in the build-up were dominated by allegations that the National Crime Agency, which investigates serious and organised crime, asked FIFA to issue an alert over attempts to fix the game at Craven Cottage - a subject Strachan was quick to avoid.

"Oh, funnily enough, you know what?" he said. "You're confusing me with someone that might answer that question."

It was a typically, if understandably, curt response from Strachan, although Nigeria counterpart Stephen Keshi was more forthcoming about the allegations.

"The thing is I don't even know where that is coming from," he said. "We don't know what happened, match-fixing or no match-fixing.

"This is the first time I've been a coach or been a player and the first time I'm hearing this, match-fixing.

"I don't think it had anything to do with our build-up or the game. We didn't think about it. I don't know if the players did.

"We did (talk about it) because it's something ridiculous, something that we don't know where it's coming from. We're not gamblers, we are football players."