How Scotland Women lost out to Spain as hopes of automatic World Cup qualification are ended

Scotland Women’s hopes of reaching next year’s World Cup via automatic qualification are over after they were defeated 2-0 by Spain at Hampden.

Spain were too strong for Scotland at Hampden, with Jenifer Hermoso scoring twice for the visitors.
Spain were too strong for Scotland at Hampden, with Jenifer Hermoso scoring twice for the visitors.

The Scots needed a victory against the Spanish to bring the Group B leaders closer to them, but the visitors prevailed thanks to an early Jenifer Hermoso penalty and then a second strike from the Spanish talisman 11 minutes from the end.

Spain are now top of the standing by nine points and have now sealed their berth at the finals in Australia and New Zealand next March, while Scotland’s only route down under is via the play-offs.

Scotland sit in second place on ten points, one clear of Hungary in third. Both the Scots and Hungary have two matches remaining, with Ukraine on four points but with four matches to play due to the current war in the country.

Scotland’s final two matches are due to be against the Ukrainians away on June 24 before finishing up against the Faroe Islands – who are without a point – on September 6. Two victories in their final two matches would secure a place in the play-offs.

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It was always going to be a hard ask to defeat in-form Spain, who dealt out a beating to Scotland in the reverse fixture by winning 8-0. However, Scotland – who are managed by a Spaniard in Pedro Martinez Losa – were much more competitive on home soil than they were in Seville.

Scotland started brightly and within a minute fashioned a good opportunity when Caroline Weir’s pass into the penalty box was intercepted crucially to stop it landing at Abi Harrison’s feet.

But despite the strong start, it was Spain who got the first goal on 13 minutes. Alexia Putellas drove into the box and Nicola Docherty caught her with an errant tackle. Real Madrid midfielder Hermoso stepped up and while Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander guessed correctly, there was no stopping the penalty right into the corner.

Scotland remained competitive, but Alexander was perhaps fortunate not to escape a red card on 22 minutes when she raced out of her penalty box and brought down Esther Gonzalez as she attempted to round the keeper and score. Alexander was only booked and the free-kick came to nothing.

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Alexander was joined in the book by Erin Cuthbert, Lisa Evans and Docherty as Scotland tried with little avail to find an equaliser in the rest of the first half, with Spain coming closest with a disallowed goal from Putellas.

Spain started the second half with purpose, with Rachel Corsie making a vital block to deny Aitana Bonmati a goal, before Gonzalez could only shoot straight at Alexander from a promising position.

Scotland then had two chances of their own, with some poor control letting down Claire Emslie in a good position and then Erin Cuthbert’s deflected effort going just past the post. They were both to prove costly.

The next goal was going to be crucial and it arrived from Hermoso, who showed her class with a neat one-two before finishing high into the net on 78 minutes to seal Scotland’s fate.

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