KIM Little may have played better games for Scotland but, if so, it is hard to remember when as the Seattle Reign midfielder yesterday scored a hat-trick to inspire her team-mates to an emphatic win over the Netherlands in Larnaca.
If anything, the scoreline should have been more pronounced as Anna Signeul’s side adapted best to the Scottish conditions of grey skies and a pitch saturated by heavy rain. It was easily the side’s best Cyprus Cup performance but, obviously, did not make amends for last October’s crushing Women’s World Cup play-off defeats to the Dutch in Edinburgh and Rotterdam.
Scotland again rang the changes – six from the side which started against South Korea on Monday – but Netherlands coach Roger Reijners fielded an entirely different eleven from the side which drew against England.
“They are at the World Cup and we’re not, so it doesn’t make it any better to be honest,” Little said of the result, “but we did a very professional job here to get the win.”
On the heavy surface, Little’s workrate and acceleration were astounding, and her goals brought her total to five for the tournament. She has scored 41 in 109 games for Scotland, a dramatic return for a midfielder.
“Goals are not something I keep count of – my job is to create and score to help the team win,” she said. Little gave Scotland the lead they deserved for a vigorous start to the game with her opening goal in the 16th minute. Left-back Emma Mitchell and striker Christie Murray set it up, leaving Little to round Dutch goalkeeper Angela Christ and slip the ball into the net.
The midfielder scored her second in the 54th minute. A Jane Ross cross saw Caroline Weir challenge Christ for the ball and when the keeper dropped it Little took advantage to slam the ball home.
The Scots could have added more but were jolted when Dutch stand-in skipper Anouk Hoogendijk headed home a Jill Roord free-kick with 20 minutes remaining.
Even that failed to galvanise the Netherlands and Scotland continued to create good chances before Weir fed Little and she again rounded Christ for another typically nonchalantly taken goal.
Despite winning their last two games, Scotland finished seventh in the 12-nation tournament. England beat Canada 1-0 in last night’s final to lift the Cup.
Scotland: Lynn; Frankie Brown (Arthur 55), Dieke (Fiona Brown 80), Beattie, Mitchell (Smith 52); Crichton (J Ross 36), Corsie; Love, Little, Weir; Murray.
Netherlands: Christ; Janssen, Hoogendijk, van Dongen (Miedema 52), Hogewoning; Middag, Mourmans; Melis (Bito 46), Roord, van den Heiligenberg; Bakker.
Referee: O Zadinova (Cze).
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