A first senior international goal for Birmingham City winger Abbi Grant separated the sides in Murcia and made it two wins from two for Scotland in the Pinatar Cup, meaning Shelley Kerr’s side have won the four-nation tournament with a game to spare. It was a match Scotland should have won more comfortably despite Iceland being the higher ranked side.
Once one of the strongest nations in European women’s football, the Icelanders look to have regressed. Scotland beat them 4-1 in last year’s Algarve Cup and that result, as well as the manner of it, seemed to influence Iceland’s outlook at the Pinatar Arena. They lined up with five at the back and for the first 45 minutes showed little ambition.
Scotland could, and should, have been comfortably ahead at half-time, but, as so often happens, it was when Iceland finally showed some attacking intent that Kerr’s side got their goal. It was very well taken by Grant after she had squandered a couple of good chances in her first start for the national side.
“I’m was buzzing to have got the opportunity to start – and to get a goal was just a very sweet moment for me,” the 24-year-old former Glasgow City forward said. “I learned I was in two hours before the game at the team meeting.
“I was a bit shocked but just really happy. I knew I’d have to get my emotions together to do my best for the team. I feel the chances I missed in the first half were easier to put away than the one I scored.
“That was harder – but these are the ones you like to get. It was a ball down the line. I drove into the box, jinked a few times, then cut on my left and thought I may as well shoot and see what happens.
“It caught the boot really well and went in to the top corner. I’ve been practising a bit with the left and it paid off today. Sometimes it leaves your foot and you know it’s going in – and this was one of these times.”
Grant joined Anderlecht from Glasgow City at the start of last year after impressing the Belgians in a Champions League qualifier at Oriam the previous summer. “I’m afraid the language barrier was a bit of an issue for me,” she admitted.
“I knew I wanted to go on and play in England so my thought process was to stay six months in Belgium, try and develop there, and then get the move. It happened so I’m really happy now.”
Grant was one of eight changes made by head coach Kerr following Wednesday night’s 3-0 win over Ukraine at the same venue. Unlike Grant, many of the incoming players were those who would normally be in the first choice team, including captain Rachel Corsie and Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert.
The Scots dominated the first half. Claire Emslie, seeking her fourth goal in four Scotland games, and Grant had a number of goal attempts but Iceland’s goalkeeper Sandra Sigurdardottir wasn’t unduly troubled.
Kerr said: “We came to win the tournament. We’ve beaten the highest ranked team and the players have dealt with the pressure so overall I’m delighted.”