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Rachel Corsie: Scotland Women’s 28 minutes of composure v Austria leaves us confident for winner-takes-all Ireland World Cup qualifying showdown

Rachel Corsie and Abigail Harrison of Scotland celebrate at full-time against Austria.
Rachel Corsie and Abigail Harrison of Scotland celebrate at full-time against Austria.

Scotland’s Women have a World Cup qualifying play-off final to look forward to on Tuesday night thanks to Abi Harrison’s extra-time header against Austria on Thursday.

It was a memorable night for the team as the rain relentlessly poured down on Hampden Park from start to finish.

The soggy evening made for pretty treacherous conditions as the newly-relayed pitch got softer and more unpredictable as the evening wore on.

After 90 minutes, there was nothing to separate the sides – and barely even a save for either goalkeeper to make – and it meant the game headed to extra-time.

Despite nothing coming from the flurry of late corners we’d had late in the game, it only took one following the restart for us to make the breakthrough.

Erin Cuthbert was on taker duties and her ball found Abi at the back post to duly nod home past Manuela Zinsberger from fewer than five yards out.

Abi Harrison heads home Scotland’s extra-time winner against Austria.

With 28 minutes of extra-time still left on the clock, it was a perfect test of the group’s resilience – and this quality shone through.

Seeing the game out took a balance of composure, game intelligence and utilising the squad’s strengths.

Abi hunted down the channels and held up the ball when she could, meanwhile, Caroline Weir and Claire Emslie wasted precious seconds down at the corner flag.

Austria barely mustered a shot on goal and certainly not a clear-cut chance, which was a credit to the discipline the team showed when it was demanded of us.

It is a relief to have another game to look forward to. If we had to head home from camp on Friday, with our World Cup qualifying bid over, it would have been devastating and it is an exciting prospect to now prepare for the second tie against Republic of Ireland on Tuesday night.

The performance against Austria was certainly confidence enhancing and it’s the type of game I feel during my time as a national team player we have always struggled to find a way to come out of victorious.

The feeling from Thursday night was a really uplifting and empowering one. We have to go into the next challenge feeling, respectfully, confident.

Recovery and preparations for Ireland’s visit to Hampden started immediately, and it will be a demanding few days to make sure we utilise our time to the best of our capabilities.

Scotland’s Rachel Corsie tries to get a shot away during the FIFA Women’s World Cup play-off match between Scotland and Austria at Hampden Park on Thursday.

On Friday morning, the group was split between a recovery-based training and a pitch session.

The Irish will pose a slightly different test to the Austrians and there is, of course, the added spice involved every time our two Celtic nations meet.

Many of the players know each other well and several are current team-mates back at their clubs. This familiarity will feel like a boost for both sides and we will need to do all we can to ensure we are the ones who make the most of it.

Home advantage will certainly be an asset and the more than 10,000 fans who turned up on Thursday will need to all be sure to come back on Tuesday with a couple more friends in tow.

Tough – but exciting – groups for English sides in Champions League

The draw has been made for the UEFA Women’s Champions League last-16 group stage – where only two teams will progress from each of the four groups of four.

The groups were revealed on Monday morning, with some glamour ties pulled out.

English sides Chelsea and Arsenal have both been pulled into difficult groups, but with the opportunity to take part in some prestigious battles.

Chelsea fell at this hurdle last year, when they were surprisingly eliminated by both Wolfsburg and Juventus after reaching the final the previous year.

The expectation of Emma Hayes’ side will be to finish in one of the two spots, but they will have their work cut out against PSG, Real Madrid and Albanian side Vllaznia.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes.

Chelsea would be favourites to win the group, based on them being a pot one team, however, PSG have formidable experience in the competition and Madrid have already knocked one English side out of the tournament, when Caroline Weir scored in a 1-0 victory over Manchester City in round one.

For Arsenal, they also find themselves in a threatening group, drawn up against current holders Lyon alongside Juventus and Zurich.

The Juventus tie comes with some added charm, as former Gunners head coach Joe Montemurro now leads the Italian champions and has been a key part in the club’s emergence.

This part of the Women’s Champions League mirrors the men’s group stages, where every team will play one another home and away.

The first games will begin as early as October 19/20, and both Arsenal and Chelsea will head to France to start.

New blood on Women’s Footballer of the Year shortlist

The BBC have announced their nominees for Women’s Footballer of the Year, as voting opens and with the winner expected to be revealed next month.

Sam Kerr, Wendie Renard, Alexandra Popp, Alexia Putellas and Beth Mead have all made the shortlist.

The award was launched in 2015 and none of the current nominees have ever won the title.

Last year’s winner was Arsenal and Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema, as she triumphed over Kerr and Putellas – the only two previous nominees on this year’s shortlist.