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Battling Scotland edged out
 Women's Football News 3 Mar 2011
 
Canada 1 (Zurrer 72) Scotland 0
Scotland were narrowly beaten by defending champions Canada despite a strong performance in their opening Cyprus Women's Cup match in Larnaca.
 
Anna Signeul's side matched the World Cup-bound Canadians until Emily Zurrer powered home a header in the 72nd minute. The match was a notable milestone for Scotland midfielder Joanne Love, who won her 100th cap.
 
Scotland looked bright in the opening stages with Arsenal defender Jennifer Beattie, playing up front as Scotland aimed to take on the imposing Canadian back four, going close within two minutes. Leanne Ross showed quick feet to cut inside a defender on the edge of the box and cross to Beattie, but her shot was held by Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
 
The front pair of Beattie and Jane Ross linked up well for Scotland's next opportunity ten minutes later. This time Beattie provided the flick on to the feet of Ross, but her low shot was straight at McLeod.
 
Scotland looked the hungrier of the two sides, chasing down every ball in midfield. Kim Little showed nice touches as Scotland created some patient build up play. Spartans forward Hayley Lauder, the two-goal hero in last month's win over Wales, looked comfortable in the unfamiliar left-back slot. Goalkeeper Gemma Fay was called into action on 17 minutes and held comfortably as Canada broke forward in numbers. Kaylyn Kyle unleashed another shot a few minutes later but was well wide of Fay's goal.
 
Little had a great chance as the half drew to a close, getting on the end of a Beattie flick to unleash a fierce shot which was palmed over by McLeod.
 
It was more of the same in the second half, with little to choose between the two sides. Little fired a shot wide before Jonelle Filigno had a shot held by Fay. Canada started to pour forward, and had the ball in the net on 61 minutes, but it was correctly chopped off for a foul on Fay.
 
Canada kept up the pressure and forced the Scotland defence to concede a series of corners. Fay had to look smart to punch clear a looping shot from Desiree Scott, but Canada eventually broke the deadlock when Zurrer connected with an inswinging corner to power in a header on 72 minutes.
 
Little had a great chance to level in the final minutes. With McLeod off her line, the midfielder found herself in front of an open goal, but couldn't connect properly as the Canadian defenders crowded her out. Scotland battled to the final whistle, with Emma Fernon clearing off the line in injury time.
 
Scotland coach Anna Signeul said: "We can take a lot of positives from that performance against one of the best sides in the world. Canada had their strongest starting 11 out there today. They have been together for two months preparing for the World Cup - and they would expect to get to the latter stages - but we had them under control for most of the match.
 
"In the first half we played very well defensively and created more chances than they did. Jennifer Beattie and Jane Ross linked up well together up front and it could have been a different game if we had taken our early chances.
 
"They always look to play the penetrating pass and we dealt with that very well. But they managed to hurt us by putting us under a lot of pressure as the second half went on and forced us into giving away corners.
 
"Of course it is disappointing to lose any game, but the players know that they put in a good shift against a top side and we can build on that.
 
"But now we need to put this game behind us and concentrate on recovering as quickly as possible because we have another tough game against England on Friday."
 
Scotland: Gemma Fay, Jennifer Beattie, Ifeoma Dieke, Leanne Ross (sub Christie Murray 59mins), Joanne Love (sub Rhonda Jones 88mins), Kim Little, Megan Sneddon, Jane Ross (sub Frankie Brown 82mins), Rachel Corsie, Emma Fernon, Hayley Lauder. Subs not used: Suzanne Grant, Shannon Lynn, Joelle Murray, Rachael Small, Rebecca Dempster.
 
(Report from www.scottishfa.co.uk)

 
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