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Resilient Scotland push Spain hard
Spain 2 (Hermoso 14,78)
att: 7,804; at Hampden Park, Glasgow
Scotland produced a hugely resilient display against the world’s seventh best side Spain, before eventually losing 2-
Scotland head coach Pedro Martinez Losa made five changes from his side’s last match against Hungary in the Pinatar Cup, with Lisa Evans and Erin Cuthbert returning from injury and Claire Emslie, Lee Alexander and Martha Thomas all coming into the starting eleven.
Scotland started brightly, with Caroline Weir finding space in the box in the opening 30 seconds but her low drilled cross could not find any team mates. The visitors soon grew into the game, however, with Jennifer Hermoso having the first effort on goal but Scotland goalkeeper Alexander was equal to it.
It was Hermoso who then put Spain in front in the 14th minute, slotting home from the penalty spot after Nicola Docherty was adjudged to have tripped Alexia Putellas in the area.
Scotland reacted well to going behind and pressed forward, cheered on by the home crowd which included lots of young fans. A brilliant turn and switch of play from Weir freed Emslie down the left but her deep cross just evaded Abi Harrison at the back post.
Cuthbert, who sat out the recent Pinatar Cup with an injury, was a constant threat on her return to the side, and her jinking run down the right brought cheers from the crowd before her cross was eventually blocked.
Spain then thought they had a second in the 35th minute, as Putellas – the current FIFA Best Player – headed in via the bar from a free kick but the goal was chalked off for offside.
It was a wholehearted display from the hosts, and four players were shown yellow cards in the opening period – Alexander for a late challenge when rushing out of her goal – as their highly-
Spain dominated possession but Scotland were showing a defensive resilience, encapsulated by a committed block by captain Corsie to deny Esther Gonzalez as the second period began.
Gonzalez then shot straight at Alexander before Scotland produced their best move of the half, as substitute Lana Clelland released Emslie but the winger could not bring the ball under control and the Spain defence regrouped to crowd her out.
The move seemed to encourage the hosts and Emslie had a shot blocked as they began to string some slick moves together and they thought they had found an equaliser when Thomas latched onto a sumptuous Cuthbert through ball and rounded the goalkeeper before sliding home, but the midfielder was adjudged to have strayed offside by the official in a very tight call.
Scotland continued to press though and they were inches away from a leveller again in the 73rd minute, as Cuthbert’s shot from the edge of the area deflected narrowly wide of the target.
However, just as the home side were enjoying their best spell of the match, Spain hit them with a sucker punch. Hermoso played a clever one-
Martinez Losa introduced Jennifer Beattie, Lucy Graham and Jane Ross as Scotland continued to press for a goal but they could not find a way through as Spain saw out the match.
Scotland remain in second spot on the group on ten points, a point ahead of Hungary, as they aim to secure a place in next year’s FIFA World Cup. Their next task in their quest to qualify will be a trip to play fourth placed Ukraine on June 24th for their re-
Scotland: Lee Alexander, Lisa Evans, Sophie Howard, Rachel Corsie, Nicola Docherty (sub Jennifer Beattie 73mins), Samantha Kerr (sub Lucy Graham 85mins), Erin Cuthbert, Claire Emslie, Caroline Weir, Abi Harrison (sub Lana Clelland 57mins), Martha Thomas (sub Jane Ross 86mins). Subs not used: Leah Eddie, Jenna Clark, Jenna Fife, Chloe Arthur, Christie Murray, Eartha Cumings, Lizzie Arnot.
Spain: Sandra Panos, Andrea Pereira (sub Ona Batlle 76mins), Ivana Andres, Maria Pilar Leon, Olga Carmona, Laia Aleixandri, Sheila Garcia Gomez, Aitana Bonmati (sub Teresa Abelleira 89mins), Alexia Putellas, Jennifer Hermoso, Esther Gonzalez (sub Barbara Latorre 75mins). Subs not used: Dolores Gallardo, Irene Paredes, Amaiur Sarriegi Isasa, Claudia Zornoza, Leila Ouahabi, Lucia Garcia, Maite Oroz, Nerea Eizagirre, Misa Rodriguez.