Scotland Women end 16-month winless run to temporarily ease pressure on Pedro Martinez Losa

Howard nets in second half as Scotland give Euro 2025 qualifying campaign shot in the arm.

Head coach Pedro Martinez Losa was able to temporarily silence the increasing clamour for his departure as Scotland Women defeated Slovakia 1-0 in a Euro 2025 qualifier at Hampden Park to secure their first competitive win for 16 months.

In the lead up to the game, the Scotland boss had brushed off pressure surrounding his role and insisted there were “no concerns” over his side’s poor form and thanks to Sophie Howard’s winner on the hour mark, he will feel some justification.

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The Spaniard insisted during his pre-match press conference that there had been improvement under his tutelage, simply suggesting “an agenda” was at play against his management. However, despite his public confidence, a rising tension surrounded a game that had clearly entered must-win territory for many of Scotland persuasion.

The 50-year-old boss made five changes to the team that started Friday’s 0-0 draw in Serbia as he shuffled his pack by bringing in Jenna Clark, Fiona Brown, Lee Gibson, Jane Ross and Lisa Evans in hope of finding the answers to his team’s woes. Captain Rachel Corsie also earned her milestone 150th cap, though any thoughts of celebrating her outstanding achievement were most definitely required to wait until all three points were secured.

Facing an outfit ranked 25 places below them in the FIFA World Rankings, it was perhaps natural Scotland began the game in the ascendancy, although an eerily quiet Hampden had to wait 11 minutes for their first sight of goal with Jane Ross testing visiting goalkeeper Maria Korenciova. Kirsty Smith and Sophie Howard blazed wide before the half hour mark.

Slovakia began to look more dangerous as the first half wore on and will feel aggrieved they weren’t awarded a penalty early in the second when Smith clearly upended Laura Zemberyova in the box. Just as it began to look like the home side were able to capitalise on the anxiousness through the home side though, Leicester City centre back Howard would rise highest from an Erin Cuthbert free kick to nod beyond the despairing Korenciova in the away net and seal a vital victory.

The sound of the final whistle saw Martinez Losa puff out his cheeks. A slog of a night it may have been, but a much-needed result was secured and the team can finally look to build on a competitive win for the first time in more than a year.

Serbia’s 4-2 win over Israel earlier in the day means his side sit in second place in Group B2 of the Euro 2025, qualifiers though it remains to be seen how long he can keep the wolves at the door. Will the win over Slovakia simply hand him a stay of execution or could the result bring forth a brighter future for Scotland’s Women? Those watching tonight would be hard pressed to give a decision on that one just now.

As for Martinez Losa, he himself admits that he doesn’t look too far beyond the next game – and maybe that is where we will find more answers. Scotland return to action against Israel at Hampden on May 31.



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