Despite an encouraging display in front of almost 8,000 fans, Scotland Women were beaten 2-0 by Spain in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park.
A Jennifer Hermoso brace was enough for Spain to extend their unbeaten run to 21 games and confirm their place at the World Cup, with no other team in Group B able to catch them despite the Spaniards having two games left to play.
The qualifying clash attracted 7,804 fans to Hampden – a record attendance for a competitive women’s game at the national stadium.
And despite the defeat, Scotland’s World Cup hopes are still alive, but to get to Australia and New Zealand they will need to finish in second – where they currently sit in the table – to secure a spot in the play-offs.
A promising start…
Against Spain, it was almost the perfect start for Pedro Martinez Losa’s side as Caroline Weir squared the ball across the face of goal, but it was cut out before finding the feet of Abi Harrison.
In the opening stages, Scotland looked in the mood and the high press looked to be working as the away side were getting no time on the ball to create or show their attacking prowess.
However, just as Spain had managed to work their way into the Scotland box for the first time, Nicola Docherty caught the foot of Alexia Putellas and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
After a promising start, Scotland would have to come from behind if they were to get anything out of the game, as Hermoso dispatched the penalty beyond Lee Alexander to make it 1-0 in the 14th minute.
Alexander was lucky to escape with just a yellow card, but saved Scotland from going 2-0 down, as she brought down Esther Gonzalez who was clear through on goal before being halted by the Scottish shot-stopper just outside the box.
Spain had the ball in the net again in the 34th minute through Putellas, but the assistant referee rightfully flagged for offside as Scotland executed a high defensive line as a freekick was whipped in.
It was a much better opening 45 minutes from Martinez Losa’s side than the reverse fixture in Seville and other than a few set pieces, Spain hadn’t looked too dangerous despite dominating possession.
An encouraging display, with only one goal in it
But the Spaniards stepped it up a gear in the second half and it didn’t take long for them to find themselves in the Scotland box, and early efforts from Gonzalez and Putellas were well blocked by Rachel Corsie.
Scotland had barely been in Spain’s half, but second-half substitute Lana Clelland had an immediate impact, as she switched the play to Claire Emslie on the right, but the Everton forward’s poor first touch quashed the rare attack.
It's a record for a competitive Scotland Women's home fixture, with 7,804 of you here with us tonight!
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) April 12, 2022
That foray forward seemed to have spurred Scotland on and it was Clelland again who played Martha Thomas through as she moved the ball into the final third, for just the second time of the half.
The Manchester United forward soon had the ball in the net, as a through pass split Spain’s centre backs and put Thomas through on goal with just Sandra Paños to beat – which she did before it was disallowed by the smallest of margins.
Just after Erin Cuthbert went close to equalising, Spain doubled their advantage in the 78th minute as Hermoso got on the scoresheet again, finishing off a smart move that included a sleek backheel from Putellas.