GETTING to major finals may not be easy but some of the games along the way certainly are.
Scorers: Scotland Women - Lauder 1; Little 5, 24, 44; Sneddon 11; Love 14; Ross 28; Corsie 82
In the quest for a place at the next European Championship, Scotland seized the opportunities afforded them by a vastly inferior Israel side as they hammered them 8-0.
As a warm up for the next qualifying match, against Republic of Ireland on Thursday, this served as decent shooting practice and a valuable three points. It will have drained little from the legs of the Scottish players as they head to Cork.
“I think this was very good for us,” said the delighted manager Anna Signeul. “It’s tough to play double headers when it is two really tough games so maybe this will be an advantage for us.”
It keeps them second in the qualifying group behind runaway leaders France and ensures they head into the final three games of the campaign in good spirits. These are the type of games, matches against minnows, which have so often broken the hearts of Scottish football fans, or at the very least caused a few flutters. Yesterday, though, there was no fear of that. Within the first minute the Scots had opened the scoring, by half-time they had rattled in seven.
It simply added to the woes of the Israel side who endured a seriously uncomfortable afternoon. A crowd of about 100 protesters had joined the Tynecastle crowd, protesting against the alleged illegal detention of Palestine footballers. It’s a campaign backed by Eric Cantona and was highlighted recently by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and by the world players’ union FIFPro.
Not only did the protesters boo the Israeli national anthem, they jeered virtually every time one of the visiting players touched the ball and chanted throughout the match.
“Some of our players commented [on the protest], “ said Signeul, “but we said to try to focus on the game – that was a political thing for another day.”
From the minute Hayley Lauder had opened the scoring with an angled shot in from the left just seconds into the game, it was one way traffic and even although the guests were slightly more resolute, the Scots less clinical, in the second half, home keeper Gemma Fay only had two of three touches in the entire 90 minutes, none of them anywhere close to being categorised as a save.
The Scots were rampant in attack, their movement, link-up play and team ethic all too much for the side they had thumped 6-1 on their own turf at the start of the campaign and the second goal came in the fifth minute. It was a long-range strike from Kim Little and it proved to be the Arsenal midfielder’s first of a well-deserved hat-trick.
On a day when the goals were coming thick and fast, though, the manager was happy to see so many of her team weighing in. The third was courtesy of a Megan Sneddon drive from the edge of the box in the 11th minute after the visitors struggled to clear their lines, while Joanne Love slammed home the fourth three minutes later. Less than 15 minutes into the game and it was already embarrassingly one-sided.
Little got her second in the 25th minute and although tall Israeli keeper Merav Shamir was at full stretch, the power and the accuracy of the effort meant she was getting nowhere near it. In the 28th minute Jane Ross beat the offside trap and with just the keeper to beat she calmly waited for her to commit before rounding her and slotting into the empty net.
With a minute of the first half remaining Little completed her treble. If the focus, touch, workrate and team interplay in the first half was superb, it was only natural that the players would ease off the throttle slightly in the second 45 minutes. They still pressured, still dominated possession and Fay remained an observer, but they were denied by the post on one occasion and had to settle for just one more addition to their scoreline. That came from substitute Rachel Corsie with eight minutes left.
Scotland: Fay, Jones, Small (Corsie 73), Dieke, Love (L Ross 65), Lauder (Evans 65), Little, Sneddon, Beattie, J Ross, Fernon. Unused subs: Lynn, Thomson, Brown, Mitchell
Israel: Shamir, Ravitz, Redman, Y Cohen (Falkon 46), Shenar (Sendel 63), Rachel, Tawil (Eni 88), Erez, Fridman, Barqui, Moran. Unused subs: Kadari, N Cohen, Shanab, Levo.
Referee: P Larson (Swe). Attendance: 817