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Belarus 0 Scotland 1 (Love 15)
Scotland got their UEFA Women's EURO qualifying campaign back on track with a convincing victory over Belarus in Minsk.
An early goal from Glasgow City's Jo Love after 15 minutes proved to be the only goal on a fine summer's evening in the Belarusian capital. On another day, Scotland would have replicated the 7-0 scoreline from when the sides met last year had it not been for the outstanding performance of goalkeeper Natalia Voskobovich.
The result means that Scotland maintain their strong position in Group 1 and, more importantly, keep their hopes of reaching the finals in the Netherlands next summer.
Anna Signeul made two changes to the side that lost to Iceland at the Falkirk Stadium on Friday. Hayley Lauder replaced the injured Emma Mitchell while Liverpool's Caroline Weir, who impressed when she came off the bench on Friday, starting at the expense of Leanne Crichton.
The visitors dominated the early exchanges at the home of FC Minsk, and their pressure was rewarded with the opening goal of the game. A lovely floating cross on the right wing from Lisa Evans found Jo Love at the back post, who headed home her sixth goal of the qualifying campaign.
Although Scotland had to wait until the 44th minute to break the deadlock when the two sides met at Fir Park in October, the game followed a similar pattern to that night in Motherwell. The hosts sat back, and looked to hit Anna Signeul's team on the counter attack. In the 23rd minute, Belarus created their best chance through Yuliya Duben, but her shot failed to trouble Gemma Fay.
Scotland continued to create opportunities, with Jennifer Beattie, Caroline Weir and Kim Little all coming close to doubling Scotland's lead. Belarus' goalkeeper Natalia Voskobovich was on top form, meaning that Scotland only had one goal to show for their dominance.
Rachel Corsie, who had been a fitness doubt in the days leading up to the match in Minsk, was replaced at half time by international debutant Erin Cuthbert.
Unlike the first encounter between the two teams, Scotland struggled to find that second goal - and the resulting breathing space - against the Belarussian defence in the second half. Voskobovich continued to frustrate the visitors, keeping great efforts from Jane Ross and Cuthbert at bay.
As the minutes dwindled down in Minsk, Scotland took the sting out of the game with smart possession, and successfully saw out the game.
Scotland now go into their final group match, a trip to Rejvakic to face Iceland in September, knowing that they have a great chance of automatically qualifying for next summer's European Championships.
Belarus: Natalia Voskobovich, Polina Beshten, Anastasia Linnik, Anastasia Shcherbachenia (sub Tatiana Markushevskaya 78mins), Svetlana Znaidenova, Elvira Urazaeva, Anna Kozyupa, Ylia Slesarchik, Yuliya Duben (sub Anastasia Shuppo 45mins), Valeria Karachun, Ekaterina Avkhimovich (sub Oksana Dranovskaya 45mins). Subs not used: Ekaterina Kovalchuk, Anastasiya Novikova, Anastasia Kunitskaya, Anna Pilipenko.
Scotland: Gemma Fay, Kirsty Smith, Hayley Lauder, Ifeoma Dieke, Jennifer Beattie, Joanne Love (sub Leanne Crichton 78mins), Caroline Weir, Kim Little, Jane Ross, Rachel Corsie (sub Erin Cuthbert 45mins), Lisa Evans (sub Leanne Ross 88mins). Subs not used: Shannon Lynn, Zoe Ness, Christie Murray, Joelle Murray.
(Report by www.scottishfa.co.uk)
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