CAROLINE Weir’s solitary strike was not enough to send Scotland through to the knockout stages of UEFA Women’s Euro 2017, but they displayed heart, passion and resilience in abundance as they battled past a much-fancied Spain.
Scotland went into the game needing victory by a two-goal margin to stand any chance of making it through to the quarter-finals.
Manager Anna Signeul rang the changes from Sunday’s defeat by Portugal in Rotterdam, with Leanne Ross, Joanne Love, Erin Cuthbert, Frankie Brown and Chloe Arthur all starting.
During a cagey first 35 minutes, a disciplined Scotland restricted Spain to pot shots from distance, but Spain should have been ahead soon after.
Scotland goalkeeper Gemma Fay, who had spilled an earlier Marta Torrejon free-kick on to the post, misjudged her jump, and only the covering Rachel Corsie spared her blushes by turning behind with the Spanish forwards haring in. From the resulting corner, Fay redeemed herself with a superb one-handed save to deny Jennifer Hermoso’s powerful header.
The Scotland goalkeeper flung herself to her right to turn Alexia Putellas’s effort on to the woodwork as Signeul’s side somehow kept Spain at bay.
And Fay survived another major scare, when she was only booked after tearing out of her goal and handling outside the box, Torrejon sending the resulting free-kick narrowly wide.
For all of Spain’s dominance in possession, Scotland scored from their only meaningful attack of the half. Crichton clipped the ball over the top towards the busy Cuthbert, who sprang the offside trap.
Spain keeper Sandra Panos beat the Chelsea teenager to the loose ball, but only sent it into the path of Weir, who kept her composure and steered the ball home through the legs of the covering Irene Paredes.
Signeul’s side started the second half in confident fashion, and had a golden opportunity to go 2-0 up within five minutes of the restart.
Weir’s inswinging corner found Leanne Crichton, who had ghosted in unmarked at the back post, but the midfielder blazed over.
At the other end, Scotland rode their luck once more when Silvia Meseguer’s 25-yard piledriver cannoned back off the bar with Fay well beaten.
Fay then saved her side again when she stuck out a strong right hand to keep out another Putellas header. Paz’s follow-up looked destined for the net, but Ifeoma Dieke was in the right place at the right time to head clear.
Despite pressing and probing, Scotland could not find the elusive second goal, but departed the tournament with their heads held high.
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