Scotland Women produced a devastating display at Tynecastle to crush Israel 8-0 and take a step closer to a play-off place for UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 qualification.
Anna Signeul’s side demolished their hapless opponents on a dreich Saturday afternoon in Gorgie with a clinical and blistering first-half performance.
A difficult and often uncomfortable afternoon for the visitors was made worse by a crowd of 100 pro-Palestine protestors who jeered virtually every time one of the Israelis touched the ball. The group had earlier attempted to disrupt the national anthems and continued their protest throughout as a larger-than-normal police presence kept a watchful eye on events.
“Some of my players commented on the protest,” revealed Scots boss Signeul, “but, I told them all the politics were for another day because for us, it was just about the football.”
That focus was evident from kick-off as the Scottish players grasped the opportunity to put the game to bed as their opponents struggled to compete.
Former Spartans winger Hayley Lauder opened the scoring after just 58 seconds with an angled drive before Kim Little fired beyond the helpless Merav Shamir to double her side’s lead moments later.
Israel had no answer to the rampant Lionesses and a stunning strike from Megan Sneddon ended the match as a contest before some supporters were even in their seats.
A looping header from Joanne Love, following a fine cross from Rachael Small, saw the Scots claim a fourth goal after just 15 minutes play. The rain continued to pour down onto the Tynecastle surface but it did little to wash away the enthusiasm and drive of a home side determined to exploit each and every weakness in their opponents.
Last-gasp defending from Diana Redman and Maya Barqui prevented Jane Ross and Jennifer Beattie respectively from netting a fifth, however the goal was only delayed a matter of minutes as Little latched onto a cutback from Ross before finishing powerfully beyond Shamir for her second of the afternoon.
The ex-Hibs Ladies midfielder was at her inspirational best pulling the strings in the middle of the park and orchestrating the Scottish play. It was from her precision through ball that Ross beat the offside trap and rounded the goalkeeper before netting Scotland’s sixth goal of an incredible first half.
Goalkeeper Gemma Fay enjoyed perhaps her quietest afternoon ever between the posts in her record 143 international appearances and it took until the 37th minute before she received a touch of the ball.
Just before the interval Scotland made it a magnificent seven as Little completed her hat-trick, providing a neat finish following a move involving Ross and Lauder.
The pace of the game understandably dropped after the break as the Israelis opted for a back five to stem the flow of service to Scottish forwards.
It was too late to repair the damage of a devastating first period but worked to a certain extent as Scotland could only breach their new-found resolve once during the second half.
The final goal of the game came in the 82nd minute when substitute Rachel Corsie rose highest to head in a corner kick from Sneddon.
Afterwards Signeul said: “I was delighted by the way we started the game because that was always the target We knew we would have a lot of possession and it was important that if we did lose the ball that we team remained tight and we won it back immediately.
“I couldn’t find fault in our first-half performance because we did everything that we wanted to do. It was an ideal fixture to have before facing Ireland on Thursday because it’s tough playing double-headers. There are a lot of positives to take from the game. The girls were focussed and disciplined and we will need more of the same on Thursday.”
The Scottish win, coupled together with Ireland’s surprise 1-0 home defeat by Wales at the weekend, puts Signeul’s girls in a very strong position for a play-off place.
Scotland: Fay, Jones, Small (Corsie 74), Dieke, Love (L Ross 67), Lauder (Evans 67), Little, Sneddon, Beattie, J Ross, Fernon. Subs not used: Lynn, Thomson, Brown, Mitchell.
Israel: Shamir, Ravitz, Redman, Y Cohen (Falkon 46), Shenar (Sendel 64), Shelina, Tawil, Erez, Fridman, Barqui, Moran. Subs not used: Kadari, N Cohen, Eni, Abo, Levo.
Referee: P Larson (Swe). Att: 817.