Cyprus Women's Cup Group 1
Scotland 1-4 The Netherlands
Wednesday 24 February
GSP Stadium, Nicosia
Scotland were beaten, but by no means outplayed in the opening group 1 match of this year's Cyprus Women's Cup.
With the game poised at 2-1 at half-time, Scotland were eventually undone by two quick second-half goals.
With top scorer Julie Fleeting (Arsenal) starting on the bench in her first match since the birth of her daughter, it was Celtic’s Suzanne Grant and Pauline Hamill (Spartans) who lead the line against a talented Netherlands side.
Grant caused problems in the first half, creating plenty of space for herself as Scotland controlled possession, with Arsenal’s Kim Little fighting for every ball as Scotland dominated the midfield.
But Scotland were made to pay for failing to find the killer ball, when The Netherlands took the lead in 14 minutes. Manon Melis pounced on Hibernian defender Kirsty McBride's short headed pass-back to knock the ball past Scotland and Celtic goalkeeper Gemma Fay.
Grant had a chance to even things up a few minutes later when she got on the end of a long pass from midfield, but her lob sailed over the bar.
Sylvia Smit made no mistake when she doubled The Netherlands' lead on 28 minutes with a powerful shot from just outside the box.
Scotland continued to press forward, and Grant and Little combined to haul their side back into the mix on the stroke of half-time. A neat flick from Little at the by-line found the feet of Grant, and she knocked the ball in from close-range.
The Netherlands came flying out of the traps in the second half, wrapping up the game with two goals inside 10 minutes.
Melis showed fantastic pace to race through the Scotland defence and lift the ball past Fay for her second. And she was at the heart of the fourth goal, racing down the right wing to square the ball for Marlous Pieete to tap in.
Scotland had lost their first-half momentum, but held firm as The Netherlands poured forward. A great clearance from Rachel Corsie on the half hour wiped out another Dutch chance, and Fay made a handful of late saves.
Scotland coach Anna Signeul made a number of changes as the game wore on. Fleeting looked lively when she replaced Grant, and linked up well with Jane Ross (Glasgow City) to set up a late Hamill chance. Glasgow City midfielder Emma Fernon and young defender Jennifer Beattie (Arsenal) both looked confident after replacing McBride and Ifeoma Dieke (Chicago Red Stars).
Anna Signeul said: “We played very well in the first half, even when we went 2-0 down. We played through midfield and created a lot of chances, but we should have been better with the final pass and the ball into the box.
“We showed that we are physical and we can play football. But we lost disappointing goals – a short back-pass, a shot that we should have closed down, and two balls over the top on the counter attack.
“The substitutions that we made in the second half were very positive. We changed six players and I think they all did very well, which bodes well for the future.”
G Fay (Celtic), R Jones (Hibernian) (F Brown (Hibernian), 80), I Dieke (Chicago Red Stars) (J Beattie (Arsenal), 80), L Ross (Glasgow City) (J Murray (Hibernian), 85), J Love (Celtic), K McBride (Hibernian) (E Fernon (Glasgow City), 70), K Little (Arsenal), S Grant (Celtic) (J Fleeting (Arsenal), 70), P Hamill (Spartans) (D Barry (Spartans), 85), J Ross (Glasgow City), R Corsie (Glasgow City)
S Lynn (Hibernian, GK)