Scotland WNT narrowly beaten by USA

USA’s Julie Ertz (left) and Scotland’s excellent Erin Cuthbert (right) battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Simple Digital Arena, Paisley. (PA Images)

A spirited performance from Scotland was ultimately not enough to claim a famous victory over the USA in Paisley, with the world champions edging a thoroughly entertaining encounter by a single goal, reports scottishfa.co.uk.

Alex Morgan’s first-half volley proved the difference between the two sides, in a match which saw Scotland go toe-to-toe with the world’s best in their first home fixture since qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

With the Paisley crowd in full voice, Scotland made the brighter start, and almost opened the scoring within four minutes. Jane Ross’s flick on from a free kick found Claire Emslie at the back post, with the Manchester City winger’s effort deflected behind. From the resulting corner, Ross saw a header fly just over the bar, yet Shelley Kerr’s side were in the game.

The USA are not the world champions for nothing, however, and served a reminder of their attacking threat on 14 minutes. A superb through ball from Julie Ertz found Alex Morgan on the run, with the striker cutting back inside and finding the supporting Mallory Pugh, with the Washington Spirit player just unable to direct her effort on target.

In what was developing into a hugely enjoyable affair, both sides were looking for the elusive breakthrough. Morgan almost provided it on 22 minutes when, having chested down a floated Crossfield pass from Carli Lloyd, her half-volley across goal was diverted away by Jen Beattie’s block.

Beattie’s centre-back partner Rachel Corsie was next to deny the USA, with the Scotland captain getting in the way of two goal-bound shots in rapid succession.

At the other end, Kerr’s side almost opened the scoring themselves on the half-hour mark, with Ross the length of a bootlace away from turning Erin Cuthbert’s corner into the USA goal.

It was, however, the visitors that opened the scoring on 37 minutes. Pugh’s deep cross found the unmarked Morgan, whose sublime volley gave Lee Alexander no chance and gave the USA the half-time lead.

Scotland pose for a team photo during the International Friendly match at the Simple Digital Arena, Paisley. (PA Images)

Undeterred, Scotland continued to play their high-tempo brand of attacking football after the break, with a lovely piece of skill from Caroline Weir producing the first opportunity of the second half as her attempted shot was blocked by Becky Sauerbrunn.

Shannon Lynn had replaced Alexander in the Scotland goal at the interval, and produced a superb save on 52 minutes to deny Julie Ertz. A flowing move involving Pugh, Morgan and Lloyd saw the ball worked to the Chicago midfielder on the edge of the box, but Lynn was equal to the driven shot.

The game was flowing from end to end, with USA goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris called into action by the next attack as Ross directed a header towards goal after good work from Fiona Brown.

With the game still in the balance, the USA were handed a gilt-edged opportunity to strengthen their grip on proceedings on the hour mark. Kirsty Smith was adjudged to have clipped the onrushing Pugh in the box, with referee Amy Fearn showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. However, Lloyd cannoned her penalty off the crossbar and the margin remained a single goal.

Shelley Kerr’s side was pressing for an equaliser, and almost found one on 75 minutes. A strong tackle from Christie Murray and a neat one-two between Cuthbert and Lana Clelland saw Cuthbert burst into the USA box, with the Chelsea striker only denied by some frantic USA scramble defence.

Scotland manager Shelley Kerr during the International Friendly match at the Simple Digital Arena, Paisley. (PA Images)

Chances were coming thick and fast, with Morgan firing into the side netting for the world champions after being played in by Lloyd.

Then came a glorious chance for the home side. Having sprung the offside trap Clelland took aim at the USA goal with no defenders in sight, only for Harris to produce a diving save to preserve the world champions’ lead.

The world champions were hanging on as the game entered its closing moments, with Emslie and Cuthbert both causing no end of problems for the US defence. A determined run from the latter earned a free-kick 20 yards out, but Weir’s shot was turned away by the defensive wall.

It proved to be the final chance for Kerr’s team, with the USA holding on to eke out the victory and seal an unbeaten 2018. Both sides will now turn their attentions to the draw for next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, which takes place in Paris on Saturday 8 December.

Scotland: Lee Alexander (Shannon Lynn 45); Chloe Arthur (Kirsty Smith 45), Rachel Corsie (capt), Jen Beattie, Hayley Lauder (Frankie Brown 45); Jo Love (Christie Murray 65), Caroline Weir; Fiona Brown (Lizzie Arnot 84), Erin Cuthbert, Claire Emslie; Jane Ross (Lana Clelland 75).

Subs not used: Jenna Fife, Nicola Docherty, Zoe Ness, Leanne Crichton, Joelle Murray, Sam Kerr.

USA: Ashlyn Harris; Emily Sonnett (Jessica McDonald 68), Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Fox (Danielle Colaprico 75); Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle; Alex Morgan (Allie Long 87), Carli Lloyd (capt) (Samantha Mewis 90), Mallory Pugh.

Subs not used: Adrianna Franch, Andi Sullivan, Megan Rapinoe.

Attendance: 3,790