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FOOTBALL: Scots roar in after spit of bother.

SCOTLAND 4 CROATIA 1

SCOTLAND'S women took a massive step towards the 2001 European Championship Finals when they crushed Croatia yesterday.

The Scots now need just a point to clinch a play-off slot after keeping their cool against the disgusting tactics of the Croats who had two players sent off.

Julie Fleeting grabbed a late double after goals by Stacey Cook and Karen Penglase had put the Scots on course.

And afterwards Fleeting blasted the Croats' dirty tactics and accused keeper Dozo Haira of spitting at her.

She said: "It was a rough game but we knew what to expect because we played them before. Our girls did brilliantly to keep their head and keep their cool and just walk away.

"Their keeper spat on me and that's the first time that's happened to me.

"But I didn't worry, she spat on my back and it just showed we were the better team.

"You are stronger if you get up and walk away and there's no point in getting involved because you just pick up yellow cards and end up in the stand."

Fleeting was even fouled after just SEVEN seconds in front of 586 fans at Stirling's Forthbank Stadium but the Scots shrugged that off to take the lead after seven minutes with a great Cook header from a corner by Penglase.

The Croats levelled with their first shot on target in 23 minutes from Marija Damjanovic.

But the scorer turned sinner a minute from the break after Penglase bundled the ball home following a brilliant free-kick on the right.

Damjanovic led furious protests to referee Marianne Mattson and was shown the red card.

And in injury time tough tackling Nada Besker earned her second caution, this time for clobbering Scots skipper Pauline Hammill.

Fleeting nodded home the third five minutes from time and then cracked in a fourth from six yards in stoppage time.

Scots boss Vera Pauw, watched by husband and Rangers No.2 Bert van Lingen, savoured the win which keeps the Scots top of the table and said: "We had to keep our emotions under control. And I know as a player it is very difficult when emotions are running high.

"But they kept their organisation and discipline which was marvellous and that's a big compliment for our girls who are so inexperienced.

"And not to react to everything that was happening in the games makes me very proud. But I have no idea why Croatia played like that."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 15, 2000
Words:414
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