Jo Love’s diving header in the 15th minute proved enough for Scotland to secure all three points in their crucial UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Qualifier against Belarus.
After the disappointing defeat to Iceland last Friday, Scotland had to bounce back with a win to retain their hopes alive and they will be delighted to take all three points. And apart from a couple of nervy moments, they aways looked like picking up the win.
Scotland’s next and final qualifier is away to Iceland on 20 September. Whether the win will see them reach the tournament as one of the ‘best runners-up’ will be discovered by September.
Anna Signeul made two changes, with Caroline Weir replacing Leanne Crichton and Hayley Lauder replacing the injured Emma Mitchell.
Scotland started quickly, getting a series of crosses that the Belarusian defence was able to clear. Caroline Weir testing the keeper.
But, when Scotland won a free-kick on the right-wing, they took the lead. Lisa Evans whipped in a dangerous ball into the six-yard area, where Jo Love met with a diving header to score her sixth goal of the campaign.
If Scotland were thinking it was ‘match won’, Belarus soon gave them a warning. A through-ball from midfield found Yuliya Duben free on the right, but luckily for Scotland she shot into the side-netting.
However, it was still Scotland who were on top. A good passing move made room for Weir to shoot on the edge of the box, but once again Natalia Voskobovich made a good save.
And then Scotland had two great chances in a matter of seconds. Great play from Hayley Lauder saw her break into the box and cut-back to Kim Little, who from 8 yards out, tried to curl it into the top-right corner only to be denied by Voskobovich’s flying save. The ball was recycled back to Lauder whose shot across goal crept agonisingly wide of the far post.
Just before half-time, there was another warning sign for Scotland as Belarus worked the ball around Scotland’s defensive third, but the eventual shot from Ekaterina Avkhimovich was too weak to trouble Gemma Fay.
Signeul made one change at half-time, giving a debut to Glasgow City’s 17-year old Erin Cuthbert.
Early on in the second half, both Evans and Kirsty Smith delivered dangerous crosses from the right, but both time Voskobovich managed to parry clear.
And then, after a corner was initially cleared, Scotland worked the ball back into the Belarus’ box where Jane Ross’ powerful shot produced a great save from the keeper.
Once again, Belarus managed to open Scotland up on the counter, this time, Anastasia Shuppo being found in space down the left, but her shot just went wide of the far post.
But then, after three minutes of possession in the Belarus’ half without carving them open, Smith came close with a 30-yard driven save that Voskobovich saved low down.
Erin Cuthbert came close to a debut goal seeing her 30-yard dipping shot superbly tipped over by the keeper. Jennifer Beattie then tried to go one better from a similar distance, but once again, the Belarusian keeper was equal to it.
Late on, Cuthbert once again came close to a debut goal. Picking the ball up deep, she ran through the Belarusian midfield and into the box, but the keeper produced a great save to deny her.
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