Scotland Women 1 - 2 Portugal Women: Scots errors prove costly

Scotland No2 Vaila Barsley can't hide her despair after defeat by Portugal. Picture: Getty.
Scotland No2 Vaila Barsley can't hide her despair after defeat by Portugal. Picture: Getty.
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Scotland’s hopes of remaining in the Uefa Women’s European Championships hang by a thread – but they have only themselves to blame after losing a second successive Group D game at Rotterdam’s Sparta Stadion.

Anna Signeul’s players dominated the opening 25 minutes and could have been two ahead.

They then conceded a dreadful goal and Portugal, who came into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team having scraped past Romania in a play-off, found a confidence that had been missing earlier. Although Scotland equalised in the second half, Portugal were ultimately worthy of their win.

Now the Scots can only qualify if they beat Spain in their final group match and England defeat Portugal.

As expected former Spartans striker Lana Clelland, pictured inset, who was top scorer in Serie A with Tavagnacco last season, came in to lead the attack instead of the injured Jane Ross.

Signeul made two other changes. Hibernian full-backs Rachel McLauchlan and Kirsty Smith replacing the Bristol City pair of Frankie Brown and Chloe Arthur – who both moved south from the Edinburgh club.

Scotland had a great chance to take the lead inside two minutes, but Caroline Weir sent a free-kick tamely into the wall.

Ten minutes later Clelland took advantage of a great through ball from Fiona Brown. She cut in from the left of the box, but her right-foot shot was just over.

That was a good effort, but she didn’t do nearly so well with later chances.

Brown again put in good work to allow Weir to get a shot in. Portugal keeper Patricia Morais parried it, but it fell to the feet of Clelland. She made a hash of her first chance but got a second bite at the cherry – this time hitting the post.

Midway through the half Brown, having a great start to the game, sent over a cross from the left which found Clelland unmarked at the far post. Again she couldn’t control the ball, which hit her hand and the free-kick went against Scotland.

Although Portugal were playing everything through captain Claudia Neto, the opening 25 minutes were dominated by Signeul’s players – yet unbelievably they then went behind and it was a shocking goal to concede.

McLauchlan had been doing well down the right, but her pass to Lisa Evans didn’t find the Arsenal forward. Portugal counter-attacked down the wing through Diana Silva, but even so her cross should have been easily mopped up by Vaila Barsley.

Instead the 6ft central defender made a hash of it and Carolina Mendes tapped the ball home. The goal changed the match as Portugal realised a positive outcome was within their grasp.

Like Weir at the start of the half, Neto should have done better with a free-kick 20 yards out in the final minute of the half, but again she fired her effort against the wall.

Portugal were far more confident at the start of the second half and Signeul brought Erin Cuthbert on for Clelland eight minutes into the second half. Although not normally a striker, the Chelsea teenager equalised 15 minutes later.

She worked a one-two with Weir before sweeping the ball home to give Scotland hope, but they again came unstuck after 72 minutes. Substitute Ana Leite had only been on the pitch two minutes when she outpaced Barsley and slipped the ball past Gemma Fay. Ifeoma Dieke prevented the game going completely beyond Scotland with a good block for a corner. Then, with five minutes remaining, Weir hit the bar and any chance of a late miracle disappeared.