Scotland power through to semi-finals with win over Azerbaijan
Scotland surpassed all expectations, and once again the
world rankings, by marching into the semi-final of the FIH
Champions Challenge in Dublin with a thoroughly deserved 3-2 win
Gordon Shepherd`s squad has maintained their unbeaten record in
the tournament and are guaranteed at least fourth place, a
remarkable achievement considering they were the lowest ranked team
entering the competition.
Before the match got underway, Sam Judge was awarded a momento
to mark her 150th international cap, a fantastic achievement for
the Milne Craig CW striker.
Azerbaijan took an early lead in only nine minutes, when a
disputed penalty corner resulted in Khatira Aliyeva slotting the
ball past Amy Gibson in the Scotland goal.
However, ill-discipline would cost Azerbaijan throughout the
match and they had a couple of players in the sin bin when Scotland
struck back in a well rehearsed set piece move. Vikki Bunce sent
the ball back to the injector Ailsa Wyllie who slotted the ball
home from a narrow angle to tie the score at 1-1.
The Scots now dominated proceedings; a Wyllie deflection was
saved by a defender on the line, Nikki Kidd`s drag flick was
stopped by the goalkeeper while Judge narrowly missed out on couple
of good chances. There was also a let-off at the other end
when Azerbaijan hit a post and the follow-up shot fortunately
missed the target.
Within a few minutes of the second half re-starting, the Scots
took the lead with a fourth penalty corner that was well won by
Louise Baxter. Bunce`s drag flick was blocked, and in the ensuing
stramash Holly Cram bundled the ball over the line for a 2-1 lead.
Scotland could have increased their advantage but Wyllie`s
effort was charged down by defenders, while at the other end Gibson
had to look lively on a couple of occasions to preserve the
The Scots did go 3-1 ahead in 49 minutes, Bartlett created the
opening and her waist-high shot seemed to be missing the target
until Ali Bell stuck out a stick to deflect it over the goalkeeper.
Tension mounted as Azerbaijan pulled one back through
Eunyoung Jhoi from a penalty corner after the ball have been given
away in midfield.
This goal gave Azerbaijan a life-line, but curiously it was the
Scots who looked more likely to add to their total in the closing
ten minutes with chances falling to Cram, Kidd and Bell, but the
goalkeeper was equal to the task.
Scotland will now advance to the semi-finals on Saturday, when
they play the winners of this evening’s Ireland vs. USA
Full details of the competition can be found on the FIH Champions Challenge website.
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