Algarve Cup
Scotland 1-0 Denmark
Wednesday, 6 March, kick-off 1.15pm
Estadio Algarve, Portugal

Scotland: Ross (34)

Scotland concluded their 2019 Algarve Cup campaign in the best possible fashion, as Jane Ross’s first-half effort proved decisive in this afternoon’s playoff against Denmark.

The result sees the SWNT secure fifth place at the prestigious tournament, sealing a first-ever win over the Danes in the process.

Having made 10 changes to the side that got the better of Iceland in impressive fashion, Scotland supporters would perhaps have been forgiven for expecting Shelley Kerr’s side to take some time to find their feet under the Portuguese sunshine.

They would have been delighted, therefore, to see their side start in impressive fashion, harrying Denmark at every opportunity. Zoe Ness, almost provided the SWNT with the dream opening to proceedings, meeting Fiona Brown’s cross with a thunderous drive that cannoned off the crossbar with seven minutes on the clock.

Ranked three places above Scotland in the world rankings, however, Denmark issued a warning of the threats they had at their disposal on 23 minutes. Frederikke Thogersen’s break into the box allowed her to get a shot away, with Jenna Fife producing a smart save at her near post to deny the Danish attacker.

Fife had to be alert again just moments later, as Thogersen once again proved a handful for the Scottish defence.

In a tightly-contested encounter, chances were few and far between. Fife once more provided a crucial intervention on 32 minutes, the Hibernian goalkeeper recovering well to deny Nadia Nadim one-on-one.

That intervention proved to be doubly important just two minutes later, as the first goal of the game went the way of the SWNT. Jo Love’s superb aerial ball found Ross racing free, with the West Ham United striker’s deflected effort beating Katrine Abel to open the scoring.

Buoyed by Ross’s strike, Scotland almost doubled their lead straight away. Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal Ness let fly, rattling the crossbar for the second time in the match with Abel beaten.

Yet whilst the SWNT was ending the half on top, the Danes were keeping Kerr’s side honest as the half drew to a close. Joelle Murray’s brave defensive header prevented Lars Sondergaard’s outfit from levelling the scores on the stroke of half-time, sending Scotland in with a narrow lead at the interval.

The two sides continued to do battle in the midfield after the break, as each ball was keenly contested. Jane Ross almost grabbed her – and Scotland’s – second of the game yet couldn’t redirect Fiona Brown’s cross goalwards, whilst Leanne Crichton’s tackle on the edge of her own penalty area closed down a golden opportunity for Signe Bruun at the other end.

Kerr’s side continued to cause problems for the Danish defence, with Fiona Brown and Hayley Lauder combining well down the left-hand side and Love and Crichton dictating play in the midfield. It was Love that had Scotland’s next chance, her effort from 30 yards whistling wide of Abel’s left-hand upright on 64 minutes.

Two of Scotland’s substitutes were next to trouble Sondergaard’s side, as Abi Harrison was just unable to control Lizzie Arnot’s cross in the six-yard box.

Rachel Corsie

Indeed it was to the bench that Kerr looked as her side sought to close the game out, with Kim Little, Caroline Weir and Rachel Corsie bringing a controlling influence to proceedings as the game entered the final quarter.

Corsie’s presence proved invaluable with 12 minutes remaining, as the Utah Royals centre-back produced a sterling effort to clear a goal-bound effort from Nicoline Sorensen off the line to preserve Scotland’s advantage.

Denmark were throwing everything at Scotland in the hunt for an equaliser, with Chloe Arthur and Fife amongst those to make telling interventions in their own penalty area. This attacking endeavour from the Danes, however, brought about opportunities on the counter-attack for Kerr’s side, Harrison and Arnot each going close with late efforts.

There was to be no late drama in the Estadio Algarve, though, as the final whistle blew to the delight of Scotland players and supporters alike to seal the victory, another boost to the squad’s confidence ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer.

Scotland: Fife; Arthur, J Murray (Corsie 58), Fr Brown, Lauder; Love (Weir 70), Crichton (Little 70); Fi Brown (Emslie 85), C Murray (Harrison 58), Ross; Ness (Arnot 58).

Subs not used: Alexander, Lynn, Smith, Beattie, Docherty, Cuthbert.

Denmark: Abel; Theresa, Ballisager, Arnth (Henriksen 75), S. Holmgaard; Gejl, K. Holmgaard (Tavlo 59), Junge (Harder 59), Thogerson (Sorensen 45); Bruun (Troelsgaard 65), Nadim (Thestrup 75).

Subs not used: Johansen, Skerle, Sandvej, Jankovska.