2015 World Cup qualifying: Scotland 1-2 Netherlands

Dutch penalty
Manon Melis fires a second goal for the Netherlands from the spot

Scotland's hopes of reaching the 2015 World Cup suffered a blow as they lost 2-1 in the first leg of their play-off semi-final against the Netherlands.

The Dutch went one up through Lieke Martens then Manon Melis doubled the lead from the spot.

Anna Signeul's Scots improved in the second half, replying through a Kim Little penalty, but it was not enough.

They visit Rotterdam for the return knowing they must step up a gear to stand a chance of making the final.

And, for the eventual winner, their reward will be a play-off final against Italy or the Ukraine, with the Italians having won the first leg 2-1.

The visiting Dutch made a bright start and could have taken the lead when a delightful team move led to Melis getting a shot away, but it was a weak effort and Gemma Fay saved easily.

Manon Melis (left) takes the plaudits after firing her side into a 2-0 lead against Scotland
Manon Melis (left) takes the plaudits after firing her side into a 2-0 lead against Scotland

There was no respite, as Roger Reijners' players continued to pile on the pressure, and that soon paid dividends when they got themselves in front.

Skipper Fay could only parry a long-range shot following a free-flowing passage of play, with Martens the quickest to react to slot home.

Going behind jolted Signeul's charges into action, as they began to see more of the ball and get forward through top-scorer Jane Ross and Seattle Reign's Little.

But they were unable to trouble a solid Dutch defence, and goalkeeper Loes Geurts was a virtual spectator.

The Scots were then dealt a crushing blow when, after racing through, Dutch star performer Vivianne Miedema was brought down in the box by Frankie Fantom-Brown. A penalty was awarded and Melis tucked it away

The visitors almost bagged a killer third as a long ball caught out the home defence and found the busy Melis, but she was thwarted by Fay again.

Just before half time, Little showed her natural spark, going on a mazy run and firing in a low effort that was deflected out for a corner.

Kim Little scored from the spot to haul Scotland back into the play-off tie against the Netherlands
Kim Little scored from the spot to haul Scotland back into the play-off tie against the Netherlands

A different Scotland emerged in the second half as they looked to get back into the match, and courtesy of the rampaging Lisa Evans and Fantom-Brown, they started to really threaten.

They got their reward after Stefanie van der Gragt handled a Fantom-Brown delivery and an excited Tynecastle crowd finally had something to cheer when Little thumped home.

Scotland had the bit between their teeth and must have thought their luck was in when substitute Emma Mitchell had the goal in her sights after a initial Little strike, but it was deflected over.

The Dutch almost added a third on the break when Miedama and Melis teamed up but it was Fay to the rescue again as she palmed to safety.

Jenny Beattie had a header saved late on and at the other end the hosts were let off the hook when Melis broke free but fired her effort off the post.

Top Stories