Ukraine 0-4 Scotland: Scots with one foot in the Women’s World Cup play-offs

Martha Thomas scored twice in the first half for Scotland

Scotland almost secured a place in the Women’s World Cup play-offs as a forceful first-half performance proved too much for Ukraine in Poland.

Only an unlikely loss to the Faroe Islands in September would derail Scotland’s bid to finish second in Group B behind runaway leaders Spain.

Caroline Weir’s early penalty was joined by Erin Cuthbert and a Martha Thomas brace, all before halftime.

Scotland could secure a play-off place on Tuesday if Ukraine beat Hungary.

Even if they don’t, Hungary would need at least a point against Spain, a team they lost 7-0 at home last September, and expect Scotland to do the unthinkable against the Faroe Islands, bottom of the group.

Those play-offs could get tricky, with the possibility of having to travel to the other side of the world just to qualify. But before the match, Pedro Martínez Losa’s team would have bitten your hand for the opportunity.

Amid the excitement of a big night for Ukraine an hour from their country’s border, their players lined up to listen to the anthem draped in their country’s flag in the same way their men’s team had before finishing with Steve Clarke’s World Cup dream.

And they could have been ahead in three minutes when, after Thomas was denied from close range, Kateryna Korsun galloped down the right flank on the counter-attack, picking out Nicole Kozlova in the box, who lobbed her shot over the crossbar.

But luck was with Scotland. Just four minutes later, Claire Emslie appeared to kick Korsun’s leg, but the referee called it a foul the wrong way and pointed to the penalty spot.

Weir duly dispatched the penalty inside the right post and the Scots were on their way.

Even the lead didn’t calm Scotland’s nerves. Lee Gibson’s clearance put their defense under pressure, Sophie Howard coughed up possession and had Anna Petryk managed to hit her shot with more power, Ukraine might well have been level.

Soon, however, it was 2-0. Thomas backheeled into the path of Cuthbert, who made a feeble challenge and flicked the ball past goalkeeper Kateryna Samson with a serene finish.

Before the game was a quarter to the end, he was 3-0. Cuthbert’s corner found Thomas at the back post, who finished it off.

And in almost a carbon copy of the move came the fourth, again Cuthbert’s corner selecting Thomas, who headed a header over a crowded box and into the far corner.

Only a goal-line clearance denied Thomas her first Scotland hat-trick before she was substituted along with Cuthbert, who could not ignore a hard-hitting challenge from Inna Hlushchenko.

Hlushchenko nearly hit on the far right of the pitch when his looping shot forced Gibson to knock the crossbar off Ukraine’s best chance of the match, but Scotland’s goal could not be breached.

Player of the Match – Erin Cuthbert

In a night of many impressive performances, Cuthbert's goal and two assists put the match beyond Ukraine.
In a night of many impressive performances, Cuthbert’s goal and two assists put the match beyond Ukraine.

What did we learn?

Scotland, so often under Martinez Losa, have made it difficult for them, dominating possession but offering little in the final third.

And the last time these two teams met, Abi Harrison’s equalizing goal in the 93rd minute saved a point.

However, this time it was a hungry and clinical Scotland team who won the game in 20 minutes.

With Spain out of sight in the group, finishing second was the goal and only calamity can deny them that now.

what they say

Scotland boss Pedro Martínez Losa tells BBC Sportsound: “I’m sure we can repeat this kind of performance more often. The heart and dedication of the team was very good.”

“We knew we could exploit the space behind. We had moments where we were able to control the game in possession. I’m satisfied with that.”

“Right now we can’t ask the players for more. Ukraine is a good team managed by one of the best in the world. At this point in the season, every player gave it their all.

“It’s a step forward. We have to have consistency in the lineup to be able to compete. Players are competing for places in training and that’s what you want as a coach.”

Whats Next?

Scotland travel to the Faroe Islands on 6 September to complete their Group B campaign. Ukraine are back in action on Tuesday when they take on Hungary in the same Poland.

lineups

Ukraine

Training 4-3-3

  • 23Samson
  • 18Korsun
  • 22Kravets
  • 14Shmatko
  • 4Romanenko
  • 13pantulaiaReserved at 27 minutesReplaced forHiryna Four. Five’minutes
  • 17ApanashchenkoReplaced forjrystiuka 77′minutes
  • 3Petryk
  • sixteenOvdiychukReplaced forJimicha 61′minutes
  • 19KravchukReplaced forGlushchenkoa 61′minutes
  • 9KozlovaReplaced forKalininaa 67′minutes

substitutes

  • 1Boklach
  • twoPodolska
  • 5Kotiash
  • 6basanska
  • 7Kalinina
  • 8Kitayeva
  • 10Shevchuk
  • elevenjrystiuk
  • 12healthy
  • fifteenHiryn
  • twentyGlushchenko
  • twenty-oneJimich

Scotland

Training 4-3-3

  • 1Alexander
  • elevenevans
  • fifteenHoward
  • 4corsetReplaced forclarka 85′minutes
  • 3Docherty
  • 22CuthbertReplaced forArthura 74′minutes
  • 8Kerr
  • 9PreyReplaced forgrahama 90+1′minutes
  • 19ClellandReplaced formurraya 74′minutes
  • twentyThomasReserved at 60 minutesReplaced forharrisona 75′minutes
  • 18Emslie

substitutes

  • twoclark
  • 5beattie
  • 6clark
  • 7robertson
  • 10graham
  • 12Clacheros
  • 13ross
  • 14Arthur
  • sixteenmurray
  • 17harrison
  • twenty-onecumings
  • 23arnot

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