Scotland put in a resilient and much improved performance despite losing again to Spain in the Women’s World Cup qualifier.
Beaten 8-0 in the second leg, Pedro Martinez Losa’s side played well but struggled to create against an accomplished Spanish side.
Jennifer Hermoso scored in each half to secure top spot in Group B and a spot at next summer’s World Cup for Spain.
Scotland remain second, in a play-off position, with two games to play.
With an encouraging display on the grounds of a rain-soaked Hampden, 7,804 people watched from the stands – a record for a competitive home game for the women’s team.
Scotland now face a revamped game in Ukraine and a trip to the Faroe Islands, with two wins guaranteed to seal second place in the group.
After a week in which players criticized the Scottish FA for their promotion of the game and claimed the governing body did not support them on the same level as men, the hosts arguably put in their best display under Martinez Losa.
In the first half, they pressed Spain high up the pitch and found themselves behind their classy opponents on several occasions, but couldn’t find the final pass or cross.
It was against the run of play when Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas fired a foul from Nicola Docherty to allow Barcelona team-mate Hermoso to score past Lee Alexander after 10 minutes.
The performance was a big improvement on the beating in Sevilla in November, where Scotland could not come close to a Spanish side among the favorites to win the European Championship this summer.
Jorge Vilda’s side dominated possession and Putellas had a header ruled out for offside before the break.
Scotland were blocked early in the second half and Esther Gonzalez missed a good chance to double Spain’s lead.
But the home side also threatened to equalize and produced a solid finish as Claire Emslie was played in the box but her first touch saw her away from goal. Martha Thomas put the ball well in the net but the offside flag had long been raised.
Erin Cuthbert’s deflected shot also slipped excruciatingly past the post, before Spain ended the game with a well-worked second goal.
Putellas dispatched Hermoso again with a wonderful backheel and his club teammate sent the ball past Alexander from close range.
Player of the Match – Erin Cuthbert
There were plenty of strong candidates for Scotland but Cuthbert was relentless in midfield
What have we learned?
After mixed results, Scotland can take on the best by playing a more possession-oriented pressing game.
Sure, there were times when they pitched in their own box against one of the best teams in the world, but in the first half they overran Spain in their own half and stopped them building. rear.
Cuthbert and Sam Kerr formed an impressive partnership in midfield and their grit and work-rate allowed the Caroline Weir in front of them to show their quality – and Manchester United striker Thomas also led the line well.
Creating clean chances remains a problem, they failed to register a shot on target in Hampden, but Martinez Losa still has plenty to do with the games against Ukraine and the Faroe Islands to come.
Scotland have a crucial rearranged game against Ukraine to fit in – likely in June – before ending their campaign in the Faroe Islands in September.