International Challenge Match
Belgium 5-0 Scotland
Tuesday, 11 March 2017, kick-off 7.45pm (UK time)
Stadion Den Dreef, Leuven, Belgium
Coutereels 35, Mermans 46, Wullaert 58, Blom 84, 90.
An under-strength Scotland side struggled to find their rhythm against an impressive Belgian team, ultimately falling to a 5-0 defeat at the Stadion Den Dreef in Leuven in an International Challenge Match.
Though Scotland only trailed by a goal at half-time, the Belgian Red Flames proved too hot to handle in the second half, scoring four unanswered goals as they cantered to victory.
Scotland began the game brightly, Lisa Evans cutting in from the right wing and testing the keeper from 20 yards with a well-struck left-footed shot.
Scotland had Shannon Lynn to thank for keeping the score level on the 12th minute when a ricochet in the box saw the ball land at the feet Belgian forward Daniels. Her curling shot from within the box was well saved by Lynn’s outstretched foot.
Fiona Brown caused the Belgian defence problems in the 24th minute, showing a deft touch and a burst of pace as she cut in from the left wing, only to have her shot from the edge of the box blocked and rebound off her for a goal kick.
Lynn was being kept busy in the Scotland goal and again came to her side’s rescue on the half hour mark, pushing a fierce header from a deep cross out for a corner.
Scotland had both the woodwork and a touch of good fortune to thank for not finding themselves trailing on the 34th minute. After winning possession in midfield the Belgians attempted an audacious lob from 35 yards out that Lynn tipped onto the bar, with the rebound bouncing off her and fortuitously rolling out of play for a corner.
Scotland’s luck did not last, however, with Belgian midfielder Coutereels powering a header from the resulting corner low past Lynn for the opener.
Coutereels was at the heart of the play minutes later, bending a powerful free kick from 25 yards over the wall that Lynn could only turn away for a corner.
Scotland were struggling to impose themselves on the game, but a Fiona Brown strike stung the palms of Evrard in the Belgian goal on the 38th minute following a high ball forward from Leanne Ross.
Kirsty Smith replaced Nicola Docherty at left back at half time but within a minute of the restart Scotland had fallen further behind.
After Dieke lost possession deep in her own half the ball worked its way through to Mermans, who found herself in acres of space in the box. Though Lynn got fingertips to the Belgian’s first time shot she was unable to prevent it from finding the back of the net.
Scotland’s night failed to improve, and a stunning strike from Wullaert extended the lead on the 58th minute. Though Lynn’s punch from a high corner cleared the box it landed at the feet of the forward who powered a tremendous left footed shot on the turn into the top corner.
Anna Signeul made a further change on the 64th minute, replacing one debutant with another, as the impressive Vaila Barsley made way for Sophie Howard.
Scotland almost gave themselves a lifeline on the 75th minute as Jane Ross curled a free kick on goal from 25 yards, but her effort was pushed wide.
Scotland made their final changes on the 83rd minute with Christie Murray and Lana Clelland replacing Leanne Ross and Lisa Evans respectively. The substitutions failed to spark a revival though, and Scotland’s misery was compounded less than a minute later as substitute Blom pounced to net Belgium’s fourth of the night.
With the match in the dying embers there was still time for Belgium to add to Scotland’s misery as Blom latched onto a clever through ball, running in on goal from thirty yards out and slotting past a helpless Lynn for her second.
Despite the comprehensive nature of the defeat Scotland head coach Anna Signeul will have learned much from the game. Both Barsley and Howard making their Scotland debuts, the former putting in a notably impressive performance at the heart of the defence.
“We were disappointed with the result tonight, but it’s better to get this kind of game out of the way now rather than at the Euros this summer,” said Barsley.
“Now we can reflect on it, see what went wrong and what went right and work to never make these kind of mistakes again.
“Making my debut for Scotland was a huge honour. It takes away from it a little that we lost, but I am delighted to have got my first cap and hopefully it is the first of many.”
SCOTLAND | Lynn (GK), Docherty (Smith 45), Barsley (Howard 64), Dieke, Frankie Brown, Crichton, Leanne Ross (Murray 83), Arnot, Evans (Clelland 83), Jane Ross, Fiona Brown.
Unused Substitutes: Fay (GK), Clark, Emslie, Graham, Alexander (GK)