World Cup play-off: Scotland lose semi-final to Netherlands

By Cheri BurnsBBC Scotland
Scotland lost 2-1 at home in the first leg
Scotland failed to recover from a poor first-half showing in the first leg in Edinburgh

Scotland's 2015 World Cup dream ended as they were beaten 2-0 by the Netherlands in the play-off semi-final second leg for a 4-1 aggregate defeat.

Anna Signeul's side knew they had to net at least twice in Rotterdam after losing 2-1 at home but fell behind to Lieke Martens' powerful 18-yard finish.

And a defensive mix-up allowed the impressive Manos Melis in for a composed finish.

The Dutch will now face Italy in the play-off final as they aim for Canada.

Signeul's Scots were much improved from their limp first leg display but lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

First-half chances fell to Jo Love and Jane Ross but both players shot straight at home goalkeeper Loes Geurts from promising positions.

The hosts were not allowed to dominate like they did in the first half at Tynecastle on Saturday but in goalscorers Martens and Melis had two fantastic attacking outlets out wide.

An early slip from Ifeoma Dieke, making her 100th appearance, had Martens scampering in on goal but goalkeeper Gemma Fay advanced swiftly to thwart the danger.

Fay then made a good stop at her near post to keep out a shot from Bayern Munich teenager Vivianne Miedema.

Kim Little, so often the star for Scotland, was playing a deeper midfield role but was tightly shackled by the hosts and struggled to make her mark.

But there were openings for the visitors and Love should have done better than fire a tame effort at Geurts after good work from Jenny Beattie.

Scotland head coach Anna Signeul
Scotland head coach Anna Signeul lost out in play-off finals for Euro 2009 and 2013

Soon after, Love's clever back-heel set up a chance for top-scorer Ross, but again Geurts made a routine save.

There was a scare for the Scots when the vastly experienced Fay totally misjudged a cross from Melis, however, her blushes were spared as there were no orange shirts close enough to take advantage.

Little was moved further up the park after the interval as the Scots had to commit more numbers in attack but it left the visitors further exposed to the pace of the Dutch.

And the Netherlands struck a killer blow when, after being teed up by Danielle van de Donk, Martens curled a fizzing effort beyond Fay from the edge of the box.

The breakthrough only served to whet the appetites of the hosts, who continued to test the Scottish defence.

Scots' hopes were raised when Little stood over a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area but her low strike could not deceive Geurts and the keeper stood firm at her near post to keep out another shot from the Seattle Reign playmaker.

There was panic for the Scots when the excellent Melis cut in from the right and took aim for for the opposite top corner, with Fay making a terrific fingertip save.

But star-of-the-show Melis was not to be denied and she was gifted a goal when Dieke and Fantom-Brown got in a tangle, allowing the Gothenburg winger to run on and slot the ball under Fay to wrap up the tie.

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