Scotland ended their preparations for this autumn’s UEFA Women’s Nations League with an impressive 2-1 victory over Finland in Tampere.
Scotland made two changes from the side that defeated Northern Ireland 3-0 last Friday night, as Rachel McLauchlan and Lauren Davidson came in for Emma Mukandi and Martha Thomas.
Those changes saw Pedro Martinéz Losa shuffle his pack, as with no out-and-out striker lining up for Scotland Emma Watson would move to the point of the attack supported by Kirsty Hanson and Davidson, while Rangers full-back Nicola Docherty stepped into the centre of defence alongside Sophie Howard.
After a swift start from both sides it would be Scotland that would take the lead as Caroline Weir, on the day of her 100th cap for her country, would open the scoring, showing trademark composure on the edge of the six yard area to calmly stroke the ball home.
GOAL! Caroline Weir gives Scotland the lead on her 100th cap!
— BBC ALBA (@bbcalba) July 18, 2023
Finland almost immediately hit back through Elli Pikkujämsä but a Scottish head would deflect her effort clear and minutes later Scotland would make it two. Kirsty Hanson’s run and deft cutback created the opportunity for Watson, who with calmness controlled the ball and guided it into Korpela’s top corner.
Both sides were showing a willingness to come forward and while the combination of Hanson and Fiona Brown was causing Emma Koivisto problems on the left flank it would be the Finns who would strike next as Pikkujämsä wriggled into space on the edge of the area. Her low effort would squeeze through Lee Gibson and go low into the bottom corner to reduce the deficit.
Scotland would continue to create chances as Weir would look to add to her tally but her curling effort would bounce just clear of the right hand post before a bursting Brown run and cut-back would see a late arriving Erin Cuthbert fall just short of making the connection that would have extended Scotland’s lead going into the half-time interval.
Finland started the second half brighter, however none of their efforts would trouble Gibson, while at the other end Weir saw another rasping effort flash just wide.
The game would start to lose its shape as both sides rolled through the changes before Eva Nyström should have at least got her header on target as she stood unmarked in the Scottish box from a corner. Scotland started to hang on going into the closing stages with Oona Siren next to try her luck from range. Then Koivisto, although this time Gibson was smart to palm the ball over the crossbar.
Despite tiring legs against a Finland side who had a number of their squad already in the full throngs of their summer season, Scotland still created opportunities to the death as substitute Jamie Lee-Napier would see a pair of late efforts fall just short of target before a Rachel McLauchlan clearance nearly gave Finland the equaliser they had been pushing for but her skewed swing of the boot would fall onto Gibson’s crossbar, before the defender would make a superb last ditch tackle to deny what would have surely been a Finnish equaliser going into the 90th minute.
Scotland would be able to ride that late storm out for a fourth victory on the bounce and one that ended Finland’s own seven-game undefeated run, as both side’s look ahead to this autumn’s respective Nations League group fixtures.
Pedro Martinez Losa, on learnings from the friendlies since the Pinatar Cup: “I always speak highly of the environment and atmosphere and it’s not because we just have good players but of all the hard work the players have put in. A performance like that, and to get those four wins in a row, has reinforced that philosophy and the style of play that we are trying to commit to. Sometimes we make mistakes but we can learn from them and come back better.”
On his second anniversary as Scotland Head Coach coming up: “I still feel very privileged to coach this team, now even more as I identify more with the players on the pitch as I have worked with them and I’m looking forward to continue to work with them and to continue our journey.”