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Switzerland 1 (Dickenmann 7)>
Scotland 2 (Cuthbert 2, Little 5)
Switzerland 1 (Dickenmann 7)
Scotland came agonisingly close to the two-goal victory they needed to all but secure automatic qualification for the FIFA Women's 2019 World Cup Finals with a gutsy 2-1 victory over top seeds Switzerland.
The result leaves Scotland with an outside chance of automatic qualification but needing Switzerland to drop points to Poland in their final game a playoff spot is the more likely outcome.
The 4,098 fans packed into the stadium - a record crowd for a Scotland Women's National Team match - were in raucous voice long before kick off and with less than two minutes on the clock they were in raptures as Erin Cuthbert got Scotland off to the perfect start. The Chelsea striker received the ball from Kim Little with her back to goal inside the box, turned and smashed it home from 12 yards out to get Scotland off to the perfect start.
The dream start got even better as a rampant Scotland doubled their lead on the five minute mark. Kim Little played a one two on the corner of the box, receiving the return pass and weaving her way past two defenders to make her way inside the box. Her driven effort took a deflection to wrong foot Swiss keeper Thalmann and nestle into the net
The desired two-goal lead did not last for long as the third goal of the match went in with only seven minutes on the clock. Switzerland broke down the left at pace through Ramona Bachmann, whose cut back finding the talismanic Swiss captain Lara Dickenmann, who side footed into the net from ten yards out.
The game was being played at breakneck pace, Scotland dominating but the Swiss nonetheless a threat on the break. Despite conceding nearly a foot in height to Kiwic at the heart of the Swiss defence, Cuthbert used her strength well to shield the ball and draw a foul in dangerous territory. Little swung the resulting free kick in deep, Jennifer Beattie heading the ball back across goal to her centre half partner Rachel Corsie, whose acrobatic bicycle kick sadly drifted too high.
After a frenetic opening 15 minutes, clear cut chances became something of a premium as the match settled into a cagey rhythm. Though Scotland continued to dominate possession, the Swiss provided a timely reminder of their threat on 23 minutes, Bachmann whipping in a dangerous ball to the near post that Scotland were glad to see deflect to safety.
A mix-up in the Scotland midfield on 35 minutes saw Howard fail to clear a long ball over the top, the fleet-footed Bachmann being released down the inside channel as a result. Though Corsie recovered to block the route to goal, the Swiss number ten managed to get a shot away on her left foot, beating Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander but not the backtracking Beattie, who cleared off the line.
The Scotland captain picked up the first booking of the night on the 40 minute mark, a clever tug on the advancing Dickenmann's shirt stopping a promising Swiss break in its tracks. The Swiss used the free kick to launch the ball into the box and though Scotland managed to put the ball behind to relative safety, the Swiss kept the pressure up from the ensuing corner, the ball ricocheting around in the box before Cuthbert cleared to safety.
Cuthbert found herself in the thick of the action minutes later, taking a knock to the knee on the halfway line from a sliding Bachmann challenge, the Swiss attacker rightly booked for it. The half ended with Switzerland breaking up a promising Scotland counter attack, Little controlling the ball on her chest at pace before releasing Emslie, who was tripped from behind inside the Swiss half. Scotland were unable to take advantage of the free kick as the half time whistle signalled the end of a pulsating 45 minutes.
The second half began with Scotland on the front foot, Kim Little whipping a corner kick into the danger zone that Switzerland were grateful to clear. Little, playing in a classic number ten role off the striker, was clearly enjoying the challenge. Picking the ball up on the halfway line she drove at the defence before releasing Emslie on the right, the winger's inswinging cross failing to find a blue jersey.
Minutes later, Emslie again found herself in space on the right, working the ball back to Howard whose low cross was shanked by the Swiss defence. The ball was eventually worked back to Caroline Weir, whose left footed drive from 25 yards skipped just wide of the far post.
The teams continued to trade blows without creating anything of note. A Caroline Weir free kick from midway inside the Swiss half briefly threatened the goal but the visitors were eventually able to hack clear.
Shelley Kerr increased her attacking options with her first substitution on the 72 minute mark, taking off Christie Murray for striker Jane Ross. Within seconds, Scotland had earned a dangerous free kick as Cuthbert was hauled down 25 yards from goal, slightly to the right of centre. Little and Weir hovered menacingly over the ball, Little providing the dummy runner for Weir's low strike, which made its way past the wall only to be saved by the outstretched legs of Thalmann.
Minutes later, Cuthbert - who was having a storming game for Scotland - had the crowd on their feet as she battled near the corner flag, emerging victorious to win a corner for the home side, from which Scotland could not take advantage.
Lee Alexander had to be alert as she judged a ball over the top of the Scotland defence perfectly, rushing out her box to beat the onrushing Swiss attacker with inches to spare. New Manchester United winger Lizzie Arnot, fresh from scoring the club's first goal back on their return to professional football recently, replaced fellow winger Emslie on 80 minutes as Kerr sought to keep the high tempo up.
Scotland spent the latter stages pressing for the all-important third goal, with player of the match Cuthbert proving a constant thorn that the Swiss side could often only stop through foul means. Despite their best efforts, Scotland could not fashion a chance of note and as the full-time whistle went the record breaking crowd rose to applaud the players for what was a valiant performance.
Scotland: Lee Alexander, Sophie Howard, Jennifer Beattie, Rachel Corsie, Emma Mitchell, Caroline Weir, Christie Murray (sub Jane Ross 72mins), Kim Little, Lisa Evans, Claire Emslie (sub Lizzie Arnot 80mins), Erin Cuthbert. Subs not used: Shannon Lynn, Joanne Love, Chloe Arthur, Fiona Brown, Lana Clelland.
Switzerland: Gaelle Thalmann, Noelle Maritz, Geraldine Reuteler (sub Cinzia Zehrider 90mins), Naomi Megroz (sub Marilena Widmer 64mins), Ramona Bachmann, Lara Dickenmann, Lia Wälti, Rahel Kiwic, Viola Calligaris (sub Alisha Lehmann 64mins), Eseosa Aigbogun, Luana Bühler. Subs not used: Seraina Friedli, Rachel Rinast, Julia Stierli, Caroline Muller.
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