Scotland came agonisingly close to holding four-time winners France to a draw in their opening European Championship U19 Group A game, writes Alan Campbell.
The Scots almost took the lead just before the regulation 90 minutes in Paisley, but instead France scored the winner 60 seconds later.
The second-half performance in particular will give Pauline Hamill’s side confidence going into their remaining games against Norway and Netherlands. The Dutch beat the Norwegians 5-0 in the earlier group game at Firhill.
As expected, Hamill gave a start to Glasgow City development team goalkeeper Sophie Allison, who plays in the third tier of Scottish football, and she demonstrated from the outset that she wasn’t in any way overawed by the occasion. Allison and Glasgow City centre-half Jenna Clark dealt confidently with the opening French attacks.
Although France won several corners in the opening 20 minutes, Scotland could have taken the lead from one of their own, but Kathleen McGovern couldn’t reach Amy Muir’s inviting low cross after the ball had been played back to the Scotland captain.
France had an outstanding player in Sandy Baltimore and the longer the half went on the more dangerous the Paris Saint-Germain attacker became down the left. She set up her side’s best chance just before the half hour but Melvine Malard’s close-range effort was deflected over the bar. Allison then made a fine double save from the corner.
Scotland enjoyed a more assertive start to the second half, including a shot from Lauren Davidson which forced a save from Justine Lerond, but France took the lead on the hour. Baltimore’s effort from the left looked to be a cross but sailed over Allison into the far corner.
Selma Bacha, who had come on midway through the half nearly made it two with a powerful shot from 20 yards, but the slender lead was wiped out nine minutes from the end.
Celtic attacker Emma Craig, who had replaced Laura McCartney, had her first attempt saved by Lerond but made no mistake from the rebound. Davidson then had a glorious chance to give Scotland the lead when put through on the French keeper but couldn’t find the net.
That proved doubly costly in the first minute of time added on when Bacha set up another substitute, Naomie Feller, for the winner.
In Group B, Spain beat Belgium 2-0 and England lost 2-1 to Germany.