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Northern Ireland 0 Scotland 2 (Little 44, J.Ross 77)
Scotland got their FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with a convincing 2-0 victory away to Northern Ireland in Belfast.
An incredible free kick from Kim Little on the stroke of half time and a second half strike from Jane Ross secured the points for Anna Signeul's side, who regained top spot in Group Four.
Scotland started the match strongly, and with a high press, were on the front foot for much of the early stages. Wearing the white, pink and yellow away kit, the team pressurised the Northern Irish defence, and almost took the lead in the ninth minute when Kim Little forced Emma Higgins into a fine save to prevent the ball nestling into the bottom left hand corner.
The hosts' best chance of the match had followed moments before. Nice interplay from Aimee Mackin and Marissa Callaghan on the left wing teed up Mackin with a look at goal, but Gemma Fay comfortably dealt with the shot on an evening in which her goal was seldom troubled.
As the half wore on, Scotland's dominance in possession continued. Jane Ross found herself on a multiple of occasions finding room behind the defence, but each time her cut backs from the goal line were intercepted.
The Scottish forward line were proving to be a menace throughout the half, with Lisa Evans on the wing, linking up with Ross, in particular the source of much of Northern Ireland's problems. Scotland created chances consistently throughout the half, including an ambitious volley from distance by Hayley Lauder which required a save from Higgins and a header from Jenny Beattie which just went over the bar.
The Scots even had a penalty appeal when a cross from Little appeared to bounce of Ashley Hutton's hand. The referee, Olga Zadinová from the Czech Republic, deemed that it was not a penalty, however.
Just when it looked like Scotland and Northern Ireland would be going into the interval on level terms, the deadlock was broken. A charging run from centre half Beattie took her past three Northern Irish players before being barged off the ball by Glasgow City's Julie Nelson. From the subsequent free kick, Kim Little produced a piece of magic. From 20 yards out, the Seattle Reign star fired the ball into the top right hand corner past Higgins.
It was a beautiful strike from Little, and it meant that Anna Signeul's side finished the half with a goal to show for their dominance.
Boosted by the goal, Scotland started the second half strongly, probing the Northern Irish backline with renewed vigour from Little's strike. Three minutes into the half they could have doubled their advantage. Tidy link up play from Evans and Ross down the left flank teed up Rachel Corsie, but unfortunately for the Notts County player she sliced her effort just wide.
Despite dominating the second half, the crucial second goal did not arrive until the 77th minute. A neat through ball from Little around Hutton played in Jane Ross. The Vittsjo GIK striker slid the ball past the onrushing Higgins into the bottom left corner to score the goal the striker's performance merited.
The second goal secured the victory for Scotland, and also kept the team on top of Group Four in their FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying group following Sweden's 5-0 victory in the Faroe Islands.
Northern Ireland: Emma Higgins, Kelly Bailie, Lyndsay Corry, Nadene Caldwell, Julie Nelson, Ashley Hutton, Laura Rafferty, Lynda Shepherd (sub Billie Simpson 45mins), Simone Magill, Marissa Callaghan (sub Lauren Wade 79mins), Aimee Mackin (sub Sarah Connolly 89mins). Subs not used: Sarah Lemon, Rachel Cromie, Hannah Doherty, Lisa Armour.
Scotland: Gemma Fay, Hayley Lauder, Frankie Brown, Ifeoma Dieke, Jennifer Beattie, Joanne Love (sub Emma Mitchell 78mins), Suzanne Lappin (sub Christie Murray 69mins), Rachel Corsie, Jane Ross, Kim Little, Lisa Evans (sub Leanne Ross 81mins). Subs not used: Shannon Lynn, Emma Black, Leanne Crichton, Suzanne Mulvey.
(Report by www.scottishfa.co.uk)
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