Written by Chris Marshall. Photo via @ScotlandNT on Twitter.
Scotland started their Euro 2021 qualifying campaign with an emphatic 8-0 victory as a five goal haul from Kim Little and goals from Claire Emslie, Jane Ross and Caroline Weir ensured three points in front of a qualifying campaign record crowd of 6,206 as debutants Cyprus were given a lesson in what major championship qualifying is all about.
It would turn out to be an utterly dominant display from a Scotland side that featured three SWPL players in it’s starting line up in the shape of Glasgow City trio Lee Alexander, Leanne Crichton and Hayley Lauder with the latter being recognised before the game in light of her 100 caps for the national side.
The real damage to the Cypriots though was coming from the fluidity shown between Lisa Evans, Claire Emslie and Kim Little with Manchester City’s Caroline Weir pulling the strings from behind and it would be three of those aforementioned players that would see Scotland take the lead on the 11th minute.
Weir, who’s passing was a joy to watch, was causing chaos in the Cypriot defence and a through ball played in Evans down the left hand side. Her deep cross found Emslie free at the back post with her powerful header leaving Eleni Ttakka in goal with no chance.
It would be 2-0 just nine minutes later when another ball from Weir found Little on the edge of box with the Arsenal playmaker using good footwork to first give herself time before dancing around Ttakka and stroking the ball into the corner.
Scotland continued to dominate the play and it took a superb double save from the Cypriot keeper to deny Weir when clean through but a third goal would come before half time when Little got on the end of a Jane Ross ball before seeing her shot go in off the far post.
The visitors had created little of note by this point and that trend would continue as the second half began and before long Scotland found themselves four up. Emslie, who was being afforded more and more space on the wings as both her and Evans continued to switch, hit a cross-come-shot towards the path of Jane Ross who pounced to poke the ball home.
On the 60th minute it was five, Ttakka, who had a couple of minutes prior done well to get down low to stop a Weir drive from the edge of the area, fumbled a ball inside the six yard box on which Little would be the quickest to react to complete her hat-trick. The midfielder wasn’t done there though as on the 82nd minute she grabbed her fourth, taking the time to look up to check if she was offside and then putting the ball under the over-worked Ttakka before adding a fifth, and a 59th in Scotland colours, to her tally on the 87th minute.
With Cyprus flagging it would be left to Weir to round out the scoring, her long range effort rubber stamping what was an impressive performance both individually and from the team as a whole.
Next up for Shelley Kerr and her side is a trip to Albania, the scene of perhaps the most important result in Scottish women’s football history. Another three points on the Adriatic Coast in November will put Scotland in a strong position with tougher challenges to come.
Scotland: Alexander, Smith (’69 Arnot), Corsie, Beattie, Lauder, Little, Weir, Crichton, Evans, Ross (’61 Ness), Emslie (’81 Grant). Subs not used: Lynn (GK), Fife (GK), Docherty, Love, Arthur, Howard, Murray, Graham, Kerr.
Cyprus: ttakka, Charalambous (’44 Taneva), Ioannou, Andronikou, Giannou, Michail (’71 Zampa), Violari, Chrysostomou (’57 Antoniou), Pafiti, Aristodimou, Savva. Subs not used: Matthaiou (GK), Kouzali (GK), Solomou, Adamou, Neofytou, Kirkini, Papadopoulou, Georgiou, Michael