Heartbreak for women as they win, but go out

SCOTLAND Women's brave effort to qualify for the Uefa European finals in Finland next year ended the same way as many of the men's national campaigns has – in glorious failure, after claiming a 2-1 win in the second leg.

The Scots defeated a Russian side, packed with full- time professional players in front of a partisan crowd of 13,500, but their night was to end in heartbreak on the away goals rule.

The scores were tied at 4-4 on aggregate and Anna Signeul's side went out, with the Russians' three goals from Sunday's first leg at Tynecastle proving decisive.

The fact that it was the first time a Scottish women's side had beaten Russia was of little consolation to Signeul, who said: "I am really down about our exit. We believed that we could win through and we deserved to on this performance as we dominated the match.

"We were down and out at half-time and went for it in the second half. The last time we were here we were beaten 6-0 and we have improved so much. I have just spoken to the Russian manager who can't believe how much a better side we are now and how close they came to going out."

The match in Nalchik near the Georgian border saw Scotland, with Julie Fleeting restored to the attack and creating some great chances, fall behind when Ifeoma Dieke put through her own net after 20 minutes with Olga Petrova in close attendance.

Signeul decided to gamble and switched to a 3-4-3 formation at half-time and the changes paid off with Sunday's two-goal hero Pauline Hamill equalising in 64 minutes and with the Scots piling on the pressure Michelle Kerr put them ahead with five minutes to go.

A scramble in the Russian goalmouth in injury-time looked sure to net a decisive third for Scotland only for the Russian goalkeeper Elvira Todua to save well.

Despite an incredible nine minutes of injury time, the Scots could not force a winning goal.

Signeul added, "The large crowd had started out as very hostile towards us, however by the end of the game they cheered us off the park. They knew that the better team had not won through."