FIFA Women's World Cup
England 2-1 Scotland
Sunday, 9 June 2019, kick-off 5pm
Stade de Nice, Nice
A valiant Scotland came up just short in their first-ever match at a FIFA Women’s World Cup, as Shelley Kerr’s team was edged out 2-1 by England at the Stade de Nice.
Claire Emslie’s goal with 11 minutes remaining had given Scotland supporters hope of at least a draw after the concession of two first-half goals, with Lee Alexander keeping Scotland in the match with a string of high-calibre saves.
With the Tartan Army inside the Stade de Nice making themselves heard during the anthems, Erin Cuthbert had the honour of getting Scotland’s debut at a FIFA Women’s World Cup underway.
A breathless opening period saw chances at both ends – a vibrant start from Scotland saw Kim Little and Cuthbert find space inside the penalty area, whilst set-piece deliveries from England asked questions of the Scottish defence.
The frantic nature of the opening yielded the game’s first goal on 13 minutes. A cross from Fran Kirby nicked off the arm of Nicola Docherty inside the Scotland penalty area, with VAR intervening to award a penalty to Phil Neville’s side. Nikita Parris duly dispatched the spot-kick past Alexander, giving England an early lead.
There was almost a second for England just moments later, as Kirby drilled a low effort just wide of Alexander’s upright.
With England pressing, Ellen White was causing a handful for the Scotland defenders. Her half-volley from point-blank range on 20 minutes saw Alexander produce a superb save down low to her left, before the striker’s headed effort was ruled out by the offside flag in the next phase of play.
The first real half-chance for Shelley Kerr’s side arrived on 26 minutes, as Caroline Weir’s free-kick floated wide, Rachel Corsie just unable to get a touch on the ball on the way through.
Emslie was next to test the English defence, her driven effort from a tight angle gathered well by Karen Bardsley.
The women in white continued to look dangerous in every attack, though, with Alexander saving well from Beth Mead on the half-hour mark.
In the face of unrelenting England pressure, the second goal arrived six minutes before the interval. With Scotland unable to clear their own penalty area, White made no mistake in sweeping home from 18 yards to double her side’s advantage.
Kerr’s side almost responded in style, with Cuthbert rifling a drive inches wide of the post from the edge of the penalty area as the first 45 minutes drew to a close.
England found themselves denied a third just 30 seconds after the restart, after White’s cross allowed Mead to fire home from close range. The offside flag had been raised against White, however, allowing Scotland supporters to breathe a sigh of relief.
Their team was beginning to find a rhythm to their attack, Emslie firing another drive into the arms of Bardsley on 57 minutes after good work from Little in midfield.
Indeed it was the Arsenal midfielder that was becoming Scotland’s creative influence as the clock ticked past the hour mark, linking with Emslie and Cuthbert as she probed for a way to unlock the English defence.
Kerr’s players were enjoying their best period of the game – a wicked in-swinging corner from Weir required Bardsley to be on her toes, before Corsie’s effort was blocked by a white wall of defenders.
Just moments later, Alexander and White continued their personal duel as the Scotland goalkeeper reacted brilliantly to deny the England striker following Steph Houghton’s knock-down.
Scotland were getting closer, however. A surging run from Kirsty Smith and clever reverse ball found Lisa Evans inside the penalty area, with Bardsley reacting well to hold the winger’s deflected shot.
Evans then almost turned provider as her cross was just an inch too high for Cuthbert on 76 minutes, before Emslie curled an effort over the crossbar.
Finally, Scotland found the way through. Once again it was Evans that caused the problems for the England defence, picking up the ball 40 yards from goal and driving forward. Her through ball found Emslie inside the penalty area and the Orlando Pride-bound winger made no mistake, lashing the ball past Bardsley to the delight of the Scotland supporters.
With England now trying to manage the game, the attacking intent was now all coming from Kerr’s side. Yet the clock was to run out on Scotland in their search for an equaliser – the women in white would hold on, leaving Kerr’s side looking ahead to Friday’s meeting with Japan in Rennes as they target a first FIFA Women’s World Cup point.
England: Bardsley; Greenwood, Houghton (capt), Bright (McManus 54), Bronze; Walsh, Scott; Mead (Carney 71), Kirby (Stanway 81), Parris; White.
Subs not used: Telford, Earps, Taylor, Duggan, Stokes, Williamson, Moore, Daly, Staniforth.
Scotland: Alexander; Docherty (Smith 54), Beattie, Corsie (capt), Howard (Arthur 74); Weir, C Murray (Arnot 86); Emslie, Little, Evans; Cuthbert.
Subs not used: Lynn, Fife, Love, Lauder, Crichton, Ross, J Murray, Clelland, Brown.