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Scotland 2 (J.Ross 3, Beattie 78) Northern Ireland 0
Scotland maintained their place at the top of FIFA Women's World Cup Qualifying Group Four with a hard fought 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland at Fir Park.
Jane Ross gave Anna Signeul's side the lead after just three minutes of play and Jennifer Beattie wrapped up the win with twelve minutes remaining as Scotland continued their perfect start to the qualifying campaign. Scotland remain three points ahead of group rivals Sweden who defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 earlier, having played one game more.
Signeul made one change from the side that beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 7-0 at Fir Park last month, with Suzanne Lappin coming in for her Glasgow City team mate Leanne Crichton.
In wet and windy conditions in Motherwell, Scotland applied pressure on the Northern Ireland rearguard right from kick off. Lisa Evans burst into the penalty area after just a minute of play, although her cut back for Jane Ross was eventually snuffed out.
The early pressure paid off very quickly though when the lively Jane Ross grabbed her 19th Scotland goal, and her third in the last three FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers. Northern Ireland goalkeeper Emma Higgins' sliced goal kick landed at the feet of Scotland midfielder Kim Little and she knocked the ball forward for Ross who slid the ball under the keeper and into the net.
The visitors fought back minutes later as Demi Vance found space on the left before firing in a low pass to Aimee Mackin, although her left footed shot could only find the side netting.
Scotland went close to doubling their lead on nine minutes when Rachel Corsie nodded the ball into Evans' path from a corner, but the Turbine Potsdam star headed over from close range. The Scots continued to create chances and caused trouble in the Northern Ireland penalty box when Little whipped in an excellent cross from the left which found Suzanne Lappin at the back post, although there were no takers for her cut back.
Jane Ross almost grabbed her second of the evening after 20 minutes when she found some space on the edge of the penalty area but her low curling shot was well saved by Higgins. Lynda Shepherd tried to get Northern Ireland level with a shot from 25 yards but Scotland goalkeeper Gemma Fay gathered comfortably.
Northern Ireland went close to squaring the game shortly before half time when Sarah McFadden headed inches wide of the post from a Mackin corner.
Scotland started the second half strongly and Little tried to give them a two-goal cushion with an attempt at goal from 20 yards but it flew just wide. They went close again on 53 minutes when Lappin volleyed wide from a Leanne Ross cross.
Scotland continued to mount pressure and almost grabbed their second of the match as Frankie Brown's attempted cross was misread by Higgins but she managed to tip over just as the ball was about drop into the net.
On 62 minutes, Rachel Corsie blazed over the bar from just inside the box and two minutes later, Higgins had to be quick off her line to stop at the feet of Lappin after Leanne Ross played her through on goal.
The hosts finally sealed the win with a deserved second goal after 78 minutes when Beattie smashed the ball into the bottom corner of the net from ten yards after collecting a Little corner.
The victory leaves Scotland in an excellent position ahead of their trip to Poland on Thursday, with three wins out of three and an impressive 16 goals scored so far.
Scotland: Gemma Fay, Hayley Lauder, Frankie Brown, Rachel Corsie, Leanne Ross (sub Joanne Love 82mins), Suzanne Lappin (sub Suzanne Mulvey 71mins), Lisa Evans (sub Joelle Murray 89mins), Kim Little, Megan Sneddon, Jennifer Beattie, Jane Ross. Subs not used: Shannon Lynn, Leanne Crichton, Eilish McSorley, Caroline Weir.
Northern Ireland: Emma Higgins, Alexandra Hurst, Demi Vance, Nadene Caldwell, Julie Nelson, Ashley Hutton, Lynda Shepherd (sub Danielle McDowell 73mins), Sarah McFadden, Jessica Doran, Rachel Furness (sub Marissa Callaghan 24mins), Aimee Mackin. Subs not used: Jacqueline Burns, Lisa Armour, Lyndsay Corry, Amy McGivern, Kendra McMullan.
(Report by www.scottishfa.co.uk)
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