Ross hits four as Scotland run riot with Mace­do­nia goal feast

Signeul’s women boost their Euro 2017 qual­i­fi­ca­tion hopes with em­phatic re­sult

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - ALAN CAMP­BELL AT ST MIR­REN PARK

DE­SPITE a freez­ing af­ter­noon in Pais­ley, Scotland’s prospects of reach­ing Euro 2017 in the Nether­lands re­main as bright as the new pink strip, which was get­ting its first out­ing.

A hand­some win was al­ways on the cards against a Mace­do­nia side which hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced such an out­come for four years, and it was duly pro­vided. It will be a long trudge back to Skopje this morn­ing for the vis­i­tors, who got so lit­tle pur­chase on the game that the biggest dan­ger to Scotland goal­keeper Gemma Fay was hy­pother­mia.

Her side did all that was asked of them in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions, es­pe­cially down the left where Hayley Lauder, Lisa Evans and Kim Lit­tle teased the Mace­do­nia de­fence al­most at will. Striker Jane Ross with four, and mid­fielder Jo Love with her first Scotland hat-trick, did most of the dam­age, but they had left-back Lauder to thank for pro­vid­ing most of the am­mu­ni­tion. The win puts the Scots three points ahead of Ice­land in Group 1, al­beit hav­ing played an ex­tra game, and the dou­ble fig­ure tally could also prove de­ci­sive in Euro 2017 qual­i­fy­ing.

“We’ve got max­i­mum points from our first four games and that’s what we set out to do,” said Glasgow City’s Lauder, who also scored her first in­ter­na­tional goal for two years.

“Our mid­field was bril­liant in cre­at­ing so much space.”

Scotland coach Anna Signeul said: “If we end up with the same points in our head-to-head with Ice­land, these 10 goals could prove the dif­fer­ence.

“I’m not just de­lighted that we scored ten goals – I’m also pleased with the way we played in the wide ar­eas. The qual­ity of the crosses was very good.”

Fay, Lit­tle and Leanne Ross all re­ceived pre­sen­ta­tions for pass­ing 100 caps be­fore the game started. It didn’t take long be­fore there was more for the home crowd to cel­e­brate.

Mace­do­nian de­fender Milka Arsova had al­ready cleared a Caro­line Weir ef­fort off the line inside the open­ing 90 sec­onds be­fore Jane Ross put the Scots ahead in the third minute. As was to be the case through­out the first half, the sup­plier was left-back Lauder and her cross was met with a glanc­ing header by the Scotland striker.

The sec­ond came five min­utes later when Lit­tle took a short cor­ner, Lauder crossed and this time Love headed past Mace­do­nian ‘keeper Vik­torija Doneva who, like her de­fence, looked vul­ner­a­ble to ev­ery high ball into the box.

Scotland’s third goal, mid­way through the half, also came from a header. Doneva had ear­lier tipped a Ross ef­fort on to the bar, but she was left floun­der­ing when Lit­tle’s cross was met by Jennifer Beattie.

Two min­utes later the home side were four up. This time the provider was Evans, and al­though Weir couldn’t find the space to shoot she slipped the ball to Lauder, who con­tin­ued an out­stand­ing per­for­mance by shooting home.

The left back re­turned the favour to Evans af­ter 35 min­utes, this time with a low cross, which the Bay­ern Mu­nich at­tacker side-footed past Doneva. Love com­pleted a first-half rout with Scotland’s sixth in the 40th minute, con­vert­ing an­other Lauder as­sist at the far post.

Love, an­other mem­ber of the Scotland cen­tury club, notched her first in­ter­na­tional hat-trick seven min­utes into the sec­ond half, again lurk­ing at the back post to con­vert an Evans cross.

The Glasgow City mid­fielder was re­placed by Lana Clel­land and the sub­sti­tute was the provider for Scotland’s eighth goal as the rout con­tin­ued. This time Ross was the ben­e­fi­ciary – and the same pair com­bined to make it nine.

Doneva’s mis­er­able game con­tin­ued as she looked to have Ross’s close-range ef­fort cov­ered, but the ball slipped un­der her body and trick­led into the net.

HOT­SHOTS: All smiles for Scotland’s Jane Ross and Jo Love af­ter they scored seven goals be­tween them

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