Scotland 0-1 USA: World Cup holders given ‘stiff test’ by Shelley Kerr’s side

USA striker Carli Lloyd leaps to avoid Lee Alexander as the Scots gave the World Cup holders a stiff test in Paisley last night. Picture: Getty Images
USA striker Carli Lloyd leaps to avoid Lee Alexander as the Scots gave the World Cup holders a stiff test in Paisley last night. Picture: Getty Images
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USA head coach Jill Ellis admitted the World Cup holders had been given a stiff test by an energetic Scotland side at the Simple Digital Arena in Paisley. A goal from Alex Morgan was all that separated the sides.

“Credit to Scotland, they came out and really had a gameplan,” Ellis said. “They are a good, exciting, buzzing side and that’s exactly what we wanted – a game against a well-organised team.”

Although the USA missed a second-half penalty, Scotland also had chances to score and head coach Shelley Kerr said: “There are no words to explain how proud I am of the players.

“I never like losing, and neither do the players but when you’re playing the world champions, you have to be realistic. This is a good starting point for our World Cup preparations.”

The visitors had two of their three star forwards, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd, in the starting line-up with the third, Megan Rapinoe, on the bench.

Kerr made five changes, four of them caused by injuries, to the side which had qualified for the World Cup in Albania two months ago.

The Americans hadn’t conceded a goal since losing one to Brazil 794 minutes and nine matches earlier, but they almost lost that record twice with the game barely started.

Caroline Weir sent a dangerous free-kick into the box which just eluded Jane Ross and Rachel Corsie, and, when Claire Emslie got a touch at the far post, the ball was cleared for a corner.

From the delivery, again from Weir on the opposite side, Ross sent a near-post header just wide of the target.

It was not until 16 minutes that the USA managed to muster an effort themselves. Lloyd created space in the box to feed Mallory Pugh, but the Washington Spirit forward screwed her shot wide of the far post.

Just after the half-hour, Scotland came agonisingly close to taking the lead.

Erin Cuthbert’s low corner from the left was dummied by Ross at the near post and, with goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris stranded, it was left to Morgan to clear the ball off the line.

Having made the difference between the teams at one end, Morgan then went one better at the other.

Pugh sent over a cross from the right which her fellow striker volleyed crisply past Lee Alexander after Lloyd had failed to get a head on the ball. It was international goal No 98 for the Orlando Pride player.

Kerr made three defensive substitutions at the start of the second half, including goalkeeper Shannon Lynn – and she made a terrific block from midfielder Julie Ertz to stop the Americans going two up.

It looked even more ominous when another of the subs, left-back Kirsty Smith, tripped Pugh inside the box on the hour. Lloyd took the penalty, but, instead of scoring a 106th goal for her side, smashed the ball against the bar.

Another Scotland substitute, Lana Clelland, missed a great chance to equalise when she was was put in by Christie Murray.

It looked as if the visitors would finally concede a goal, but Harris parried the Fiorentina striker’s shot away for a corner.