Scotland Women head for World Cup showdown

Jane Ross wheels away to celebrate after completing her hat'trick in the 9'0 win. Picture: PA
Jane Ross wheels away to celebrate after completing her hat'trick in the 9'0 win. Picture: PA
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ANNA Signeul’s side have run up some big scores in this World Cup qualifying campaign, but they surpassed themselves on Saturday night as they overwhelmed the Faroe Islands at Fir Park. Three goals up after just 11 minutes, they added six more in the second period against a side playing in the competition for the first time.

Scotland Women 9-0 Faroe Islands Women

Scorers: Scotland Women - Little (6), Weir (10), J Ross (11, 46, 52), Corsie (57, 69), Crichton (59), Beattie (90)

Group 4 started last September with a 7-2 win over the same opponents in Torshavn and another highlight was the 7-0 win over Bosnia-Hezegovina in the next game.

On Saturday, goalkeeper Gemma Fay had just one save to make, in the second half when she touched a fine Heidi Sevdal shot round the post for a corner.

By contrast, her Faroese counterpart Randi Wardum was, along with Sevdal, the visitors’ best player and kept the score down with a string of saves.

The win assures Scotland of at least a place in the four-team play-offs for Uefa’s eighth place in next summer’s World Cup in Canada. They can still qualify automatically if they beat Group 4 leaders Sweden 3-1 or better in the final game in Gothenburg on Wednesday night.

Saturday’s game started well for the home side and continued in that vein. Fay, Jo Love and Megan Sneddon stepped up to receive presentations from Scottish FA president Campbell Ogilvie to mark their 175th, 150th and 125th appearances respectively in recent away games.

Then, Kim Little marked her 100th appearance for Scotland by scoring her 35th goal after six minutes.

Even by then, it was clear that the Faroese intended to park as many bodies as possible behind the ball, but their hopes of frustrating Scotland ended when Little, recently voted the most valued player in the US National Women’s Soccer League, tapped home Hayley Lauder’s pass.

If the early moments had all been about Scotland’s most experienced players, there was a huge thrill for former Hibernian midfielder Caroline Weir when she scored her first international goal. Pushed up alongside Jane Ross in Signeul’s 4-3-1-2 formation, the Arsenal player scored off the post on her eighth cap.

Ross’s first goal of the evening sixty seconds later threatened to turn the night into a farce but the visitors stiffened their resolve and Scotland’s efforts to score a fourth got bogged down in a packed midfield and penalty box. That delayed Ross’s second and third goals until the start of the second half.

It has been a good campaign for the Vittsjo and former Glasgow City striker, who hails from Rothesay. When her last goal went in it not only brought up her third hat-trick in nine qualifying games, but made her joint top scorer in all seven groups alongside Gaetane Thiney of France and Vivianne Miedema of the Netherlands.

The striker could easily have added to her tally on an evening when the ball was regularly pinging into the Faroese box from both wings.

Signeul’s decision to switch to a 2-4-4 at half time, with better movement off the ball and more width, ensured that the visitors couldn’t keep the scoreline down indefinitely.

Rachel Corsie, who scored Scotland’s only goal in both the recent friendlies against Wales and Portugal when abundant possession wasn’t converted into something more tangible, made it 6-0 after 57 minutes. Her former Glasgow City team-mate Leanne Crichton quickly made it seven. After a brief respite Corsie scored her second of the night and near the end substitute Christie Murray was unluckly not to match Weir with a first international goal – but her clever curled shot hit the post.

That would have been the pick of Scotland’s goals, but that, and the ninth, was reserved for central defender Jenny Beattie. With the game in injury time she drove the ball home from 25 yards.

Earlier in the day, Sweden beat the Bosnians 3-0 to extend their goal difference advantage in the group to seven, but that was obliterated by Scotland’s scoreline. The outcome of the group now depends on the head-to-head with Sweden. Should the teams have identical results in their two games, Scotland will go through.

Signeul is hoping experienced defender Ifeoma Dieke will be fit for the Sweden match. She missed Saturday’s game with a sinus problem leaving Corsie, who played as a holding midfielder in the two previous games, to partner Beattie. Potsdam striker Lisa Evans is still out with shin splints.

Scotland: Fay, Love (Mulvey 70), Lauder, Little, Sneddon, Crichton (Murray 62), Ross, Corsie, Beattie, Fantom-Brown, Weir (Mitchell 60). Subs not used: Lynn, McSorley, Docherty, Richards.

Faroes: Wardum, O Danielsen, F Danielsen, A Sevdal, M Josephsen, R Andreasen, H Sevdal, Kristiansen (S Petersen, 84), Klakstein (Brimnes, 72), L Petersen, Magnussen (V Andreasen, 53). Subs not used: Davidsen, Jacobsen, Biskopstø, Isaksen.

Ref: S Zinck (Fra).

Att: 1,292