Spain Women 3 - 2 Scotland Women: Last-minute heartbreak for Scots

AFTER one of the most dramatic matches imaginable, it is Spain and not Scotland who have qualified for next summer’s European Championship finals in Sweden.

SCORERS:

Spain Women - Adriana (74). Meseguer (113), Boquete (120)

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Scotland Women - Mitchell (62), Little (98)

Referee: B Steinhaus (Ger)

Attendance: 600

Needing two goals in the second half of extra time after Kim Little had put Scotland ahead for the second time, Spain scored one and then Scotland captain Gemma Fay saved a penalty with a minute remaining. Yet, in the 122nd minute, Veronica Boquete scored to snatch victory from the devastated Scots.

Scotland made one change from the team which drew 1-1 at Hampden, with Glasgow City’s Emma Mitchell coming in for her former team-mate Lisa Evans, now with German side Turbine Potsdam. Spain made two changes, incuding the return of star player Boquete, who injured her knee in the build-up to the game in Glasgow.

Boquete made her presence felt immediately with a shot which was deflected for a corner, and when the ball came over Chelsea striker Adriana headed over.

Despite these early scares, the home side were far less dominant than they had been in the opening 20 minutes in Glasgow and the longer the half went on the more the Scots, in their away white strip, imposed themselves on the game.

On the half hour, Jane Ross, set up by Jo Love, sent a shot over the bar, and then from Kim Little’s free kick, Rhonda Jones headed wide.

Jenny Beattie sent a shot just wide from a promising position in the home box but, three minutes from the interval, coach Anna Signeul’s side came even closer to making the breakthrough. A downward header from Jones was heading in before goalkeeper Ainhoa Tirapu saved it near her left-hand post.

For all that the Scots were completely on top at this stage, they very nearly succumbed to a sucker punch at the tail-end of the half. A through ball bounced over right-back Rachel Small’s head leaving Adriana clear on goal, but Fay, winning her 150th cap, did well to deflect her shot. From the corner, Spain captain Sandra shot wide.

A mistake by Rachel Corsie gave Adriana a good chance at the start of the second period, but with Sonia clear to her right she blasted over Fay’s bar. At the other end Scotland forced two corners but, from the second, Beattie couldn’t get high enough to direct a header downwards.

The Arsenal striker then got another chance in the air from a Little free kick, but again she couldn’t direct her header on target. It was all Scotland and they came even closer seconds later. Megan Sneddon’s throw was flicked on by Beattie, but again Corsie couldn’t get the decisive final touch.

Entirely deservedly, Scotland went ahead after 61 minutes. Rachel Small and Jane Ross combined on the right and the ball was knocked down to Mitchell, whose shot bulged the Spanish net.

Inevitably there was a response from the home side, with Melisa’s header being saved by Fay, a fierce shot by Sandra going just wide, and Sonia’s shot being cleared by Corsie.

Although the rain was getting heavier, the Scots seemed to have weathered the storm before Spain equalised with 16 minutes remaining. It was a well worked goal too, Boquete feeding Adriana who cut into the box and curled a fine shot past Fay into the far corner.

The game was held up when Corsie fouled Boquete midway inside the Scottish half. The Glasgow City captain was booked and stretchered off. Sonia took the free kick and forced Fay to tip the ball over the bar.

The Scots were on the back foot in the final stages of regulation time, with Fay making another save from Jennifer Hermoso and Sandra squandering a good late chance.

With the game into stoppage time for Corsie’s injury, Mitchell’s shot was deflected by Tirapu for a corner and from the delivery sub Eilish McSorley should have scored at the far post. If that was close, Boquete had an even better chance for Spain but also lacked the composure to finish.

Eight minutes into extra time, Scotland scored the goal which left Spain needing two goals to win the tie. Little collected the ball on the left and sent in a shot which seemed to move in slow motion as Tirapu got a hand on it before it nestled, beautifully for the Scots, in the net at the far corner.

The second period of extra time saw the predictable Spanish pressure and McSorley headed off the line before Spain equalised for the second time. It came out of nowhere, but Meseguer’s shot from 25 yards was a beauty.

Unbelievably, Spain were awarded a penalty after a Jones handball and Boquete stepped up confidently to the spot. With both teams’ hearts in their mouths Fay saved her side with a fantastic save – just as she had done from Adriana at Hampden.

That seemed to take Scotland to Sweden but, with seconds remaining, Boquete made amends for the penalty by threading a shot through the visitors’ defence for the winner.

Spain: Tirapu, Torrejon, Melisa (Vazquez 103), Dieguez, Ibarra, Meseguer, Sandra (Calderon 99), Adriana, Hermoso (D Garcia 94), Sonia, Boquete.

Scotland: Fay, Small, Jones, Corsie (McSorley 79), Lauder, Love, Sneddon (Grant 116), J Ross, Little, Mitchell, Beattie (Evans 81).