Shelley Kerr celebrated her first match on home soil in charge of the Scotland team with a comprehensive victory over Albani.
Scotland put in an impressive performance as they secured six points from their opening qualification campaign double header, and gave the crowd at the Paisley 2021 Stadium plenty to cheer about in the process, reports scottishfa.co.uk.
Scotland started brightly, with Fiona Brown and Claire Emslie’s pace and trickery on the wings causing the Albanian defence problems from the get go.
Tenacious play from Emslie in the fourth minute saw her pull the ball back for Jane Ross on the edge of the box, whose driven shot was blocked and deflected out of play. The resulting corner saw Scotland captain Corsie bullet a header narrowly wide.
Scotland kept the opening period of sustained pressure going with a curling effort from Weir from all of 25 yards which the Albanian keeper could only parry, with Fiona Brown narrowly failing to connect with the loose ball.
An incisive through ball on the 15th minute from Weir was scrambled out from the retreating Albanian defence. The resulting corner found Mitchell in acres of space at the back post, but she could only guide her header over the bar.
Emslie was then hauled down unceremoniously on the right wing when she danced free of her marker, with Weir’s in-swinging delivery causing chaos in the Albanian ranks, who eventually managed to put it behind for a corner.
As Emslie whipped the delivery in the Albanian defence found themselves all at sea once again and when the goalkeeper, Zani, failed to deal with it at the first attempt she eventually knocked the ball over her own line for an own goal on the 22nd minute.
With Scotland off the mark they pushed on for more instantly, Emslie again causing her opposite number all sorts of problems on the right. Her cute through ball down the inside right channel found Clelland, whose cut back invitingly fell to Crichton on the edge of the box, though her scuffed effort was held by the keeper.
The wave of constant Scotland attacks was clearly troubling Albania and Scotland deservedly doubled their lead on the 32nd minute. Arthur cut inside from her right back spot only to see her 25 yard curling drive cannon back off the crossbar. Fiona Brown was quickest to react to the loose ball, expertly volleying in past the stranded keeper from just inside the box for her first goal under the Kerr regime.
Scotland were in complete control without creating any other clear cut chances for the remainder of the half, with a yellow card for Chloe Arthur on 37 minutes the solitary blip on an otherwise faultless performance.
The second half resumed with Scotland on the ascendance, with the third goal coming on the 54th minute. A fizzed Emma Mitchell left-footed drive from outside the box was once again parried into the danger zone by the keeper and Scotland’s number 13 Jane Ross was on hand to stab home.
The crowd of 1,845 didn’t have to wait long for a fourth and when it came only two minutes later it was the pick of the bunch. The impressive Emslie – who tormented her opposite number all night –cut in from the right wing and looped a delightful left-footed shot into the far corner of the net from more than thirty yards.
Scotland almost had a fifth on 74 minutes as an Emslie corner eventually made its way to the lively Emma Mitchell whose first touch bought her time and space to hit a low drive just wide of the post.
Shelley Kerr’s troops weren’t to be denied their fifth for much longer though, with substitute Lisa Evans, who had earlier replaced Clelland, nodding home in the 82nd minute after a teasing cross from Player of the Match Emslie to wrap up the victory.
Scotland now turn their attention to 2018, with their next qualification fixture away to top seeds Switzerland.
Scotland: Alexander, Mitchell, Corsie (C), Beattie, Arthur (Frankie Brown 85), Crichton, Weir (Cuthbert 65), Fiona Brown, Emslie, Ross, Clelland (Evans 74)
Unused substitutes: Lynn, Love, Lauder, Howard