In their worst performance of the campaign, Scotland fell to a highly disappointing 4-0 defeat to Group 1 rivals Iceland. Scotland never seemed to hit their heights of flowing football that we have become used to and were fortunate to go into half-time only 1-0 down thanks to Hallbera Guðny Gísladóttir’s free-kick which crept into the top far corner after Scotland failed to clear.
And then, seven second-half minutes saw Iceland score three times to take the game firmly away from Scotland. Dagný Brynjarsdóttir’s cross picked out the unmarked Harpa Thorsteinsdóttir to head the ball past Scotland’s keeper Gemma Fay. Three minutes later, their third came from a corner which Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir was once again left unmarked. Iceland’s fourth was the fourth ball from the right wing, this time, Elísa Viðarsdóttir being the player left with the simplest of finishes.
Late into stoppage time, Scotland won a penalty which after a delay for both an Icelandic and Scotland player to be booked, Little’s penalty hit the left post. This meant that Scotland’s record of scoring in every qualifier came to an end whilst Iceland’s track record of keeping a clean sheet in the qualifiers continued.
Iceland started the match, making sure the Scotland players knew they were up for a battle, committing a couple of fouls in the opening minutes.
And they then fired a warning shot for the Scots, when from a corner, the ball was played short to Elísa Viðarsdóttir who fired over.
Then, Iceland took the lead after Emma Mitchell had conceded a free-kick on the visitor’s right-wing. Hallbera Guðny Gísladóttir whipped in a dangerous ball when Scotland’s Ifeoma Dieke ducked under the ball and could only watch in horror as the ball sailed into the top-left corner.
It could have been even worse minutes later when Viðarsdóttir was left unmarked, but luckily, she headed over. And then, nervous play at the back gifted possession to Fanndis Frðriksdóttir on the edge of the box, but her shot was well saved by Gemma Fay’s legs.
Only the offside flag saved Scotland in the 19th minute. An Icelandic corner was cleared only as far as Elísa Viðarsdóttir whose deflected shot fell to Harpa Thorsteinsdóttir but as she stabbed the ball over the line, the offside flag was raised.
As the first half drew on, whilst Iceland continued to pose Scotland’s defence all sorts of troubles, Scotland started to pose a threat going forward. But they weren’t on the same wavelength at times, with a great example being when Lisa Evans whipped a dangerous ball towards the near post, no attacker made the run.
Just before half-time, Scotland won their first corner but Kim Little’s delivery just wouldn’t fall for either Jo Love or Jane Ross.
Anna Signeul made a change at half-time with Hayley Lauder replacing the injured Emma Mitchell.
Scotland had an even worse start to the second half than they did in the first. In the opening seconds, Frðriksdóttir whipped in a dangerous ball which Hayley Lauder turned behind for a corner. That was whipped viciously towards the near post where Anna Björk Kristjánsdóttir failed to turn it goalwards
Hólmfriður Magnúsdóttir nearly made it 2-0 when her 25-yard shot looked like it was flying into the bottom corner, only for Fay to make a wonder save to tip the ball around the post.
Finally, Scotland seemed to click going forward. Lovely build-up play on the edge of the box allowed Jane Ross to make room for the shot, but unfortunately, her effort was blocked by an Icelandic defender.
Then breaking from an Icelandic free-kick, Little played Jane Ross down the right wing with an incisive pass. Whilst her first cross was blocked, she worked it back to Kirsty Smith on the edge of the box whose shot nearly crept into the top corner.
And then Lauder fizzed the ball across the six-yard box where Jane Ross just couldn’t get onto it.
Just as it was looking like Scotland could score, Iceland dealt a killer blow. Dagný Brynjarsdóttir’s right-wing cross found the unmarked Thorsteinsdóttir whose header gave Fay no chance.
With Dieke off receiving treatment, Iceland scored their third after an overhit passback from Smith under pressure conceding a corner. From that, Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir was left unmarked to score with a header.
And another right-wing cross made it 4-0 to Iceland. Hólmfriður Magnúsdóttir floated the ball to the unmarked Margarét Lára Viðarsdóttir who like their past two goals, scored with a head.
Scotland tried to pull a goal back and came close from a corner which Jane Ross headed just wide. And they went close from anther corner, but this time, it was Jennifer Beattie whose header just went over.
And then, in second-half stoppage time, Scotland won a penalty when Caroline Weir lifted the ball over Kristjánsdóttir who handled the ball in the box. Leanne Ross and Sara Gunnarsdóttir were both booked for pushing before the penalty could be taken. And then, Kim Little sent the keeper the wrong way, but the ball hit the left-hand post.
The result sees Scotland drop down to second, with Iceland now leading Group 1.
It was a disappointing loss. I think it was not just one thing that went wrong. Obviously their physicality in the first half…we couldn’t really keep up with that. Second half, I think we were much better…I think we corrected some things at half-time and I think we played much better in the second half, we were much physical, still we concede three goals
Anna Signeul – Scotland Head Coach