Scotland boosted their hopes of a place in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs as they moved to the top of Group 6 with victory against Slovenia.
Two goals from captain Steven Fletcher and another by Garry Kenneth moved Scotland one point clear of Finland and three ahead of Denmark. That pair play on Friday in Turku and as long as Finland do not win and the visitors fail to prevail by four goals or more, Scotland will lead the group going into Tuesday's decisive trip to Denmark with only first place guaranteeing a play-off berth next month.
With Scotland national coach George Burley watching in Falkirk, Billy Stark's side were ahead in the opening minute when Fletcher combined well with strike partner Ross McCormack before finishing low past the advancing Jan Koprivec. The Udinese Calcio goalkeeper was forced off just after the half hour with an arm injury and worse was to follow for the visitors when they conceded a second two minutes before the break.
Slovenia playmaker Nejc Pečnik was off the pitch receiving treatment for a foot injury when Charlie Mulgrew's free-kick found Kenneth. His header hit the post and the Dundee United FC centre-back reacted quickest to prod the loose ball past substitute Matjaz Rozman.
There was a lifeline for Slovenia nine minutes after the break when Kenneth lost possession and the ball was fed through to Tim Matavž. Slovenia's top scorer made no mistake with a low finish past Jamie McDonald. The goal encouraged Branko Zupan's side to push for an equaliser but they were caught on the counter on 64 minutes when Mulgrew swung in another high ball picking out Fletcher at the back post to cushion a header past Rozman.
Mulgrew's free-kick hit the post late on but he missed an even better chance to make it 4-1 when he struck his late penalty straight at Rozman after Calum Elliot was fouled in the box. More seriously for Scotland, a yellow card for Andrew Considine just before the end means the defender will be suspended for the trip to Aalborg, in which a victory would seem likely to take Scotland into the play-offs at last as one of the four best runners-up in the ten groups. Slovenia will end the group in fourth but could do Scotland a favour on Tuesday when Finland are the visitors to Velenje.