With promotion already secured to Europe’s top flight, Scotland went one better and won gold with a hard-fought 2-1 win over tournament favourites Italy in the final of the European Championships II at Glasgow Green yesterday.
After an even first five minutes, the Scots made the ideal start with the opening goal. Bex Condie fired the ball into the circle and Sarah Jamieson was on hand send a fierce drive past the Italian keeper.
Sarah Robertson then waltzed past several Italians but was finally crowded out before she could get a shot in. At the other end the Italians looked dangerous on occasions and Amy Gibson had to look lively a couple of times to keep a clean sheet.
The Scots were the more enterprising side but there were no further clear-cut chances to add to the tally.
Early in the second quarter a clever lob by Jen Eadie found Lucy Lanigan in space in the circle but the Watsonians’ striker failed to trap it. Another chance fell to Jamieson but this time her effort was blocked.
Just as the game entered a bit of a lull, there was a let-off for the Scots as Italy were awarded the first penalty corner. The initial shot was blocked by Kaz Cuthbert on the line and the Italians followed up to put the ball in the net, but the umpire disallowed the equaliser.
The Scots were unfortunate not to double their tally at the start of the second half. In a series of four penalty corners Fiona Burnet managed to poke the ball into the net but the umpire had already blown for another award to Scotland.
The Scots won another penalty corner but Bex Condie’s strike was deflected to safety by the keeper.
The Italians were dangerous on the break and Federica Carta hit the post.
Then came the dramatic last quarter. Amy Costello had brilliantly blocked an Italian set piece shot, while at the other end Jamieson created an opening but hit an Italian stick rather than the ball.
As the tension rose several players from both sides visited the sin bin. Then a let-off for Scotland as Giuliana Ruggieri’s attempt at goal soared over the bar.
The game then entered a mad last five minutes. It started when a diving Fiona Burnet’s shot was illegally stopped on the line by a defender, but the normally reliable Kate Holmes sent her effort well wide of the target.
Italy were reduced to ten players when Chiara Tiddi was given a red card for dissent.
As the Italians pressed for the equaliser, Louise Campbell embarked on a pacey breakaway, released the ball to Charlotte Watson who stroked the ball into the empty net for Scotland’s second.
That should have been that, but at Italy’s ninth penalty corner Eugenia Bianchi finally found the net. Despite the setback and Italy replacing their keeper with an outfield player, the Scots held out for the gold medal.
Poland took bronze with a 4-2 victory over Austria. It was 2-2 entering the final quarter but strikes from Magdalena Zagajska and Wiktoria Blaszyk clinched the accolade for the Poles.
The relegation pool finished with Wales, Czech Republic and Ukraine all on six points, but the latter faced the drop on goal difference along with bottom side Turkey.