Women’s World Cup: Lana Clelland laces up to shoot Scotland to victory in Paris
Fearless Lana Clelland might just have set the tone for Scotland’s Women’s World Cup crescendo.
On Wednesday night in Paris, Shelley Kerr’s charges take their final shot at qualification for the knockout stages, going head-to-head with Argentina at the Parc des Princes (kick-off 8pm UK time) – the winner finishes third in Group D and could go through as one of the best third-placed teams.
Late in the day against Japan last time out, instinct seemingly took over as striker Clelland pounced upon a loose pass and rocketed home a long-range stunner, and that kind of freewheeling reckless abandon could prove just the ticket for Scotland when they look to seize their opportunity in the French capital. I saw I had no pressure. I just thought: ‘I’m hitting this’,” said the 26-year-old.
“It was 2-0 down. What was the worst that could happen?
“As soon as it left my foot, I knew it was top bins!”
Clelland’s left-footed howitzer, which unfortunately proved little more than a consolation in last week’s 2-1 defeat, has deservedly been nominated for the goal of the tournament award but there’s been little time for the Fiorentina hotshot to dwell on that champagne moment.
Business comes first and Scotland will need to throw off the shackles if the are to get the better of an Argentina team that have proved a tough nut to crack for Japan and England.
Clelland, who has the honour of scoring her nation’s second Women’s World Cup goal, believes that her team have the weapons to fire themselves to glory. “We’ve got goals that can come from all over the pitch. I don’t think, as a team, it’s individualised on one person scoring goals,” she said.
“We’ve shown that throughout the tournament, so we go into it with confidence that there’s goals that can come from this team.
“We knew, coming into this tournament, the first two games would be really difficult against seventh [Japan] and third [England] in the world.
“We always knew Argentina was the must-win game, so we go into it positive. We can look at our strengths and see how we can break them down because they’re a very well-organised team.
“We’re going to have to find ways to break them down that we maybe haven’t managed in the last two games.
“It’s just a case of us looking at ourselves and taking the positives out of the last two games and take it into the third because we need the three points.”
Having shown spirit in abundance in battling 2-1 losses against rivals England and Japan – another fancied side – the Scots are steadfastly determined not to leave France with regrets in tow.
There’ll be no margin for error as Kerr’s troops attempt to take their maiden World Cup campaign into the knockout stages but Clelland always cuts a relaxed figure.
Life in Italy is seemingly tailor-made for the laidback Perth native and she’s flourishing in Florence.
“It suits me as a person. I’m quite a laidback, chilled-out person, so to live the life of the Italians suits me,” said Clelland, who was the top-scorer in Serie A in the 2016-17, bagging 23 league goals for UPC Tavagnacco. “When I first went out to Italy, the dream was maybe England. The league was growing so much and all the professional clubs, like Chelsea and Man City, were coming in.
“If I look at the Italian league now – Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Fiorentina, where I’m at – it has grown so much in the last five years and it’s a pleasure to be part of it.”
• SSE, the energy behind Scottish women’s and girls’ football. Official partner of the Scotland Women’s International team and proud sponsor of the SSE Soccer Centres and the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup.