Scotland celebrated their qualification for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 with a highly impressive 2-1 win over Iceland – a vast contrast to their defeat against Iceland in Falkirk back in June. In a noisy and intimidating stadium, 150 short of Iceland’s record attendance, Scotland started on top and never let their grip slip. They deservedly took the lead when Emma Mitchell’s cross picked out Jane Ross who headed past the Icelandic keeper Guðbjörg Gunnardsdóttir. However, just before half-time, Iceland equalised when Fannidis Frðriksdóttir chipped Gemma Fay – despite Mitchell’s valiant attempts to clear off the line.
But Scotland never seemed to let the setback effect them and they retook the lead in the second half when Lisa Evans won a penalty which Jane Ross converted calmly.
Not only was this Iceland’s first defeat of the qualifying campaign, these were the first goals they had conceded. It is also their first competitive home defeat since 2014 when they lost to Denmark in the World Cup qualification campaign.
Scotland started the game on the front foot and when Iceland got forward, there was a Scotland defender to make the clearance – a contrast to June when Iceland terrorised Scotland down the wings. Emma Mitchell was getting down the left-wing and it was from her Scotland created their first chance. Her early cross picked out Jane Ross, but she headed wide. Lisa Evans’ cross then picked out the Manchester City striker, but once again, she couldn’t get the direction on her header.
Iceland had to wait until the 20th minute for their first chance, coming from a free-kick. Hallbera Guðny Gísladóttir took, but unlike when she scored the opener in Falkirk, it proved an easy save for Gemma Fay.
Five minutes later, though, Scotland took the lead. Kirsty Smith’s cross was kept in by Mitchell on the left, and her cross found Jane Ross whose header gave Guðbjörg Gunnardsdóttir no chance.
Smith’s early ball into the box came close to picking out Jane Ross in the box, but it was just overhit.
Scotland was dominating possession, controlling the ball without really threatening the Icelandic keeper. They had a chance from a 35-yard free-kick but Leanne Ross’ delivery went straight to the keeper.
And then in the 40th minute, Iceland equalised in initially controversial circumstances. Bergling Björg Thorvaldsdóttir’s precise pass sent Fannidis Frðriksdóttir into the box and with Fay coming off her line, she chipped the keeper with a delicate finish. Mitchell rushed back and appeared to clear the ball off the line, but after a long delay, the goal was given – something replays proved to be correct.
Iceland could have taken the lead soon after when Frðriksdóttir’s cutback deflected into Thorvaldsdóttir’s path, but from close-range, Fay made a stunning reflex save.
Scotland could have taken the lead, just two minutes into the second half, but unfortunately, Caroline Weir’s long-range shot hit the inside of the post.
However, Iceland too had a chance to take the lead but Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir shot wide from just 10 yards.
And then Scotland did take the lead when Gunnarsdóttir tripped Evans in the penalty area, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Jane Ross placed the ball on the spot to send the keeper the wrong way and sent the visiting supporters into ecstasy.
Iceland tried to find a response and they found space behind Scotland’s defence when Margarét Lára Viðarsdóttir’s pass picked out Gunnhidlur Jonsdóttir, who had come on three minutes before, but she managed to curl the ball straight at Fay. Then Anna Björk Kristjánsdóttir came close when she headed over from a corner.
Scotland gifted possession straight to Dagný Brynjarsdóttir who, despite having better options, shot from distance and provided Fay with a simple save.
But Scotland was still posing a threat and came centimetres from scoring a third. Lisa Evans was played through on goal and although she was forced wide, she managed to chip the keeper and could only watch as the ball hit the crossbar.
The win sees Scotland finish runners-up in their group, level on points with Iceland. This was a superb first step of preparation for the Euros. And both teams took part in the Icelandic ‘Viking Clap’ after the match.
Lisa Evans: “We’re obviously very happy. We came here on a much different mindset from the first game and we really wanted to show, that although we had already qualified before the game, we really wanted to play for pride, to show how well we can compete with these top teams like Iceland.”
Anna Signeul: “(On Scotland’s reaction when Iceland equalised) I was so proud of them. There was such positive body language, it was like ‘okay, that’s done, but now we focus’. Even when we scored, we didn’t lose our focus either, we were just going and going.”