FIFA Women’s World Cup
Scotland 3-3 Argentina
Wednesday, 19 June 2019, kick-off 8pm (UK time)
Parc des Princes, Paris
Scorers: Little (19), Beattie (49), Cuthbert (69); Menendez (74) Bonsegundo (79, 90+4 pen)
Scotland’s first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup ended in heart-breaking and controversial fashion as Argentina fought back from a three-goal deficit to deny Scotland the three points they needed to earn third place in the group.
Seemingly cruising at 3-0 up, Scotland let their concentration drop to concede two goals in the final 15 minutes before VAR intervened to award a penalty for a mistimed Sophie Howard challenge.
Lee Alexander, who had made a pivotal penalty save in the qualification campaign, seemed to have won the match for Scotland in dramatic fashion when she saved the resulting spot kick, only for VAR to again intervene and award a retake for the Scotland keeper’s feet being off the line. Bonsegundo scored the subsequent spot kick to break Scottish hearts and condemn them to 4th place in group D.
Scotland entered the match knowing that nothing less than victory would be enough to secure the priceless third place in the group that would surely lead to qualification for the last sixteen barring an unlikely set of results elsewhere in the tournament.
Shelley Kerr’s side started on the front foot, threatening from the early stages. With less than two minutes on the clock a curling Nicola Docherty cross from the left almost found Leanne Crichton, handed her first start in the tournament. The Argentines failed to deal with the cross convincingly, teeing up Erin Cuthbert whose volleyed effort failed to trouble Correa in goal.
As the game settled into a rhythm the Argentines started to find a foothold in the match. Scotland struggled to retain possession without allowing Argentina any meaningful efforts on goal, their only real effort a speculative free-kick from near the halfway line that Lee Alexander watched sail over the crossbar.
Argentina almost took what would have been a deserved lead on the 16th minute, as a tantalising cross from Bonsegundo found Larroquette in the box, her thumping header smacking off the crossbar.
The rebound fell to Argentine feet and when the ball was worked back to Jaimes her shot was instinctively saved by Alexander, Scotland subsequently able to scramble the ball clear.
With Argentina continuing to maintain the pressure, the let-off served as a wake-up call, as Scotland took the lead in a match for the first time in the tournament on the 19th minute.
Sensational play from the effervescent Erin Cuthbert saw her drive into the box from the left, a swivel of the hips taking her past three Argentine defenders and allowing her space to drive a ferocious shot on goal that was well-kept out by Correa.
The rebound fell straight back to the feet of Cuthbert, however, who cleverly controlled the ball, knocking it back across goal for the awaiting Kim Little to stab home from six yards to give a jubilant Scotland team the precious lead they so craved.
Clear cut chances were something of a premium for the rest of the half, Scotland enjoying the better of the opportunities without fashioning anything truly meaningful. On 36 minutes Little worked space out of a tight situation and played a left footed pass to release Claire Emslie down the left wing, her low cross just unable to find the onrushing Cuthbert at the near post.
Scotland finished a competitive half on the attack, Caroline Weir striding forward and unleashing a shot from 30 yards that flew wide, bringing an end to the half and raucous cheers from the assembled Scotland fans in Paris – cheers that grew more raucous within minutes of the restart as Scotland extended their lead.
Scotland earned a corner, the delivery of which was unusually poor from the normally trusty left foot of Caroline Weir. Scotland worked the ball back to Weir on the right though, the quality of her subsequent cross absolutely magnificent, placing it on the head of the onrushing Jen Beattie.
The centre half’s point blank header had too much power behind it for Correa in goals, giving Scotland a two-goal advantage and sending the fans into raptures.
A long ball out of defence from Lisa Evans almost saw Erin Cuthbert extend the lead. The irrepressible forward brushed off the challenge of one centre half before steamrollering in on goal and unleashing a low drive from 20 yards that Correa pushed behind for a corner.
Cuthbert wasn’t to be denied the goal that her performance deserved for long however, as Scotland got their third of the night from the resulting corner.
Weir’s delivery again picked out a team mate with laser-like precision, Leanne Crichton’s header from ten yards being tipped onto the post by a fantastic save from Correa. Cuthbert pounced on the rebound, slamming the ball home on 70 minutes to seemingly put the game to bed and send Scotland’s goal difference into positive figures for the first time in the tournament.
The three-goal lead didn’t last for long, however. Argentina capitalised on slack play in the Scotland defence, Menendez slotting home a slide rule pass from the left side of the box to give Argentina hope and give Scotland cause for concern.
Scotland’s nerves were further rattled only minutes later as Argentina pulled another goal back. The South Americans swept up the pitch as they counter attacked from a Scotland corner, Bonsegundo working a yard of space two yards outside the Scotland box on the left-hand corner.
Her curling, right-footed effort was spectacularly tipped onto the bar by Alexander, only for the Scotland keeper to watch in horror as the spin took the ball over the line as it bounced.
As Argentina were awarded a free kick in Scottish territory, Shelley Kerr made a double substitution to try and tighten things up and see out the match, bringing on Sophie Howard and Fiona Brown. Unfortunately for Scotland the referee allowed Argentina to take the free-kick before Brown had entered the field of play, with the ensuing chaos in the Scottish defence resulting in Howard’s mistimed challenge that proved to be so devastating for Scotland.
There was still time for more refereeing controversy after the Argentine equaliser, with the referee blowing for full-time mere seconds after the fourth official had signalled for four minutes of injury time.
Though the clock had passed the 94 minute mark, the VAR-awarded penalty had taken far longer than that and Scotland can feel rightfully aggrieved that they weren’t offered the chance to mount one last attack.
With much of the stadium in disbelief many of the Scotland players found themselves in tears, devastated that their inaugural World Cup journey had ended in such cruel fashion.
Scotland: Alexander; Smith, Beattie, Corsie (capt), Docherty, Little, Weir, Crichton, Evans, Cuthbert
Subs not used: Lynn, Fife, Love, Lauder, Arthur, Howard, Murray, Clelland, Brown, Ross