UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Qualifier
Scotland 3-0 Albania
Friday, 23 October 2020, kick-off 7.30pm
Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh
Scotland: Corsie (37), Weir (76), Weir (90)
Scotland resumed their UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 qualification campaign with a straightforward 3-0 victory over Albania at Tynecastle Park.
Needing victory to keep pressure on group leaders Finland, Scotland battered a limited Albanian side who had come to Scotland with damage limitation in mind.
Shelley Kerr’s side were last in competitive action almost exactly a year ago, when they put five past tonight’s opponents in Albania. They showed no signs of rustiness in the early stages, immediately putting pressure on the Albania defence, with the opposition keeper needing to be quick off her line in the third minute to nick the ball away from Jane Ross as she was put through on goal.
The home side quickly picked up where they left off in their previous meeting against Albania, with Scotland camped in the opposition half applying pressure to a packed defence.
Caroline Weir, always looking to get on the ball and dictate play with her range of passing, tried her luck on a number of occasions inside the first 15 minutes without working the keeper.
Scotland almost broke the deadlock on the 17th minute, a deep corner from Claire Emslie headed back across goal into the danger area by Hannah Godfrey that was only half cleared by the Albanian defence to Erin Cuthbert on the edge of the box. Her snapshot rattled the crossbar with the keeper well beaten before bouncing behind for a goal kick.
Scotland had the ball in the back of the net four minutes later, Rachel Corsie forcing home after the visitors failed to deal with a testing cross from the right, only for the assistant referee to flag for offside.
The captain was not to be denied for log though, as she finally broke the stubborn Albanian resistance on 37 minutes, as she rose in the area to power home a beautifully-curled Weir free-kick for her 17th international goal.
Scotland continued to apply pressure for the remainder of the half against a side that looked increasingly shorn of ideas as time wore on, but were unable to find a second, with Corsie’s strike all that separated the teams at half time.
The home side made one change at half time, Boyle – who had been booked in the first half – replaced by Manchester United full back Kirsty Smith. The change did nothing to alter the pattern of the game, with Scotland continuing to camp in the Albanian half without troubling the keeper.
Kerr made two more changes on the 60th minute as she sought to inject new life into the constant waves of Scotland pressure, Leanne Crichton and Martha Thomas replacing Lucy Graham and Jane Ross, with Crichton earning her 70th cap as a result.
Dominating but unable to fashion any really clear cut chances, Scotland continued to press for a second. Thomas was almost played in by Cuthbert after the latter won possession in midfield and played a perfectly-weighted through ball for the striker, only for the keeper to again get off her line quickly to clear the danger.
The second finally came on the 76th minute, Cuthbert laying the ball off for Weir who was lurking menacingly at the edge of the box. Her driven effort took a deflection off the hapless defender and nestled in the back of the net for her 10th international goal.
Caroline Weir rounded off a Player of the Match display with a well taken penalty in injury time after Martha Thomas was fouled in the box.
Scotland now travel to group leaders Finland on Tuesday, 27 October looking to narrow the gap on the side managed by former SWNT Head Coach Anna Signeul.
With Finland a point ahead having played one game more than Scotland in the group, Shelley Kerr will be looking to regain top spot and lay a marker as Scotland aim for automatic qualification.
Scotland: Alexander, Mitchell, Corsie (c), Godfrey, Boyle (Smith 45), Weir, Hanson, Ross (Thomas 60), Emslie, Graham (Crichton 60), Cuthbert
Unused substitutes: Lynn, Fife, Docherty, McLauchlan, Ness, Howard, Murray, Grant, Arnot
Albania: Rexhepi, Rrahmani, Bajraktari, Maliqi (Mustafa, 90), Bajramaj (Lufo, 86), Morina (Elezaj, 72), Krasniqi, Doci, Hila, Gjini, Franja
Unused substitutes: Raxhimi, Curraj, Begolli, Rrotani