Honours even as Scotland women draw with Icelandic counterparts


The Glasgow City defender’s equaliser just minutes after coming on as a substitute cancelled out Sandra Maria Jessen’s strike as Scotland struggled to create many chances in the Greenock sun against a team four places higher in FIFA Women’s World Ranking.

Head coach Anna Signeul said: “In terms of our attack, I think we can improve a little bit, but I’m very happy the performance, I really am, and I think it’s great that we played against one of the top teams in Europe.”

Anticipating a tough contest and weakened by call-ups to the TeamGB Olympic squad and injuries, Scotland toiled in the first half against a physical Iceland side without ever threatening Þóra Björg Helgadóttir’s goal.

Celtic goalkeeper Gemma Fay was called into action after just 10 minutes as Malmö midfielder Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir skipped past two players before releasing Hólmfríður Magnúsdóttir, with Fay reacting well to turn the Valur midfielder’s fierce drive round the post.

The first half saw Scotland fail to create any clear-cut chances as the match ebbed and flowed, with the hosts they were forced back into their own half as Iceland attacked in numbers with several long balls in behind the Scottish defenders.

The lively Fanndis Friðriksdóttir had the best chance to break the deadlock in the final 10 minutes of the first half as she raced on to a through ball from Dóra María Lárusdóttir, but Fay braved a collision to deny the Breiðablik forward, who saw her follow-up effort turned round Fay’s right-hand post.

Iceland started the second half as purposeful as they’d ended the first as Hallbera Gudný Gísladóttir’s deep cross from the left was cleared off the line by Rachael Small, just two minutes in before a Lárusdóttir header inadvertently went away from goal to allow Scotland to clear.

Scotland finally found some attacking fluidity as Jo Love played Hayley Lauder down the left, but her cross evaded Leanne Ross at the back post as the Glasgow City midfielder moved into a more advanced position.

As the pace of the game increased, Iceland again came close as Fay was called into action to tip Gunnarsdóttir’s header over the bar from an Edda Garðarsdóttir corner, before Rakel Hönnudóttir head wide from the resulting corner.

Scotland responded immediately as Lauder again found space down the left, aiming a cross-field pass to the edge of the box, but Love slipped, and the visitors were able to clear.

Hönnudóttir, Gunnarsdóttir, and Lárusdottir all had wayward efforts on goal in a busy five minutes for the Scotland defence as Iceland continued to press, but Fay and central defenders Rachel Corsie and Rhonda Jones continued to hold firm.

A flurry of substitutions from both sides slowed the pace considerably mid-way through the half, before Lauder got the crowd going with a rasping left –footed shot from almost 25 yards which cannoned back off the bar with substitute goalkeeper Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir well beaten.

Lauder then saw a shot saved by Gunnarsdóttir before Lárusdóttir headed wide, but Iceland finally made the breakthrough in the final 10 minutes as the Scottish defence failed to deal with a cross down the right from Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir and Jensen pounced to fire past Fay.

Ross took a knock to the face in the build-up and after a lengthy delay was replaced by club teammate Mitchell who sparked fresh impetus to the Scotland attack.

With Scotland heading for defeat, Mitchell bombed down the left in the final minute to pick up the ball in the box before firing a left-footed shot across the diving Gunnarsdóttir.

Signeul’s side could have stolen the win in stoppage time when Turbine Potsdam striker Lisa Evans whipped in a ball in from the right, but three Scottish attackers failed to get connect which summed up a disappointing afternoon in front of goal.

Scotland return to action with a friendly against another of Europe’s best sides, Norway, in three weeks for a final run out ahead of their final Euro 2013 qualification double-header in September, needing just one point from their final group games against Wales and France to secure second place, and a play-off place for the chance to qualify for their first major tournament.

Speaking to Scotzine after the match, Signeul said: “I think it was a very competitive game, a very good game for us, because they’re strong, they’re physical, they play a lot of long balls.

“They have what we sometimes have problems with, and we saw that against Sweden as well, physicality, and I think we showed that we can keep up with their physicality. They played so many high balls, and trying to get in behind us; it’s very difficult to play against when they attack with so many players.

“We have proved before that against these better teams, like France, that we show we are defending, we’re really tough.

“I thought we defended so well [today], maybe we didn’t attack the way we wanted, however, this is very encouraging for us. Against France and Wales, we know it’s going to be two very, very tough games.

“The first game is Wales away, and they need to win, and we have to get a point.”

Scotland: Fay (c); Fernon, Jones, Corsie, Small (Brown, 84); L Ross (Mitchell, 80), Love (Lappin, 70), Lauder, Sneddon; Beattie, Evans.

Subs not used: Lynn, Docherty, Dempster, McSorley

Iceland: Helgadóttir (G Gunnarsdóttir, 55), Atladóttir, Viggósdóttir (Edvardsdóttir, 81), Garðarsdóttir (Þorsteinsdóttir, 75), Gísladóttir, Magnúsdóttir (Jessen, 72), S Gunnarsdóttir, Friðriksdóttir, Hönnudóttir (G Jónsdóttir, 55), Lárusdóttir (Bjarnadóttir, 81), Ómarsdóttir (Brynjarsdóttir, 55).

Referee: Morag Pirie (SCO)

Attendance: 412


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