Scotland got revenge for the EURO2008 defeat away to Italy today as the distaff side of the game came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at McDairmid Park when The A teams of Scotland and Italy played a challenge match. Both sides were using the opportunity to play as part of the preparations for their EURO2009 qualifying games in May. If Scotland manage to play against Portugal on 6 May at the same venue as they did against the team 13 places above them in the World Rankings, Perth may be the place to be. Italy scored the opening goal with just three minutes of regulation time left in the first half through Silvia Fuselli (ACF Torino). It was captain Julie Fleeting (Arsenal LFC) who equalised and Pauline Hamill (Doncaster Rovers Bells LFC) who won the game for Scotland.
Some ball control from Rhonda Jones
It was only a matter of time before the visitors scored. They looked more assured on the ball and their slick passing did create chances. With the Scotland defence shaky, a ball was played to the right where Fuselli had managed to remain invisible to the rear guard. She move in on Johnstone and coolly slid the ball under her and into the net. The worst possible time to lose a goal ,just on half-time. However, it did provide Scotland coach Anna Singuel with ammunition to fire off volleys during the half-time team talk.
Scotland were a different team in the second half despite on changing their goalkeeper, Gemma Fay (Leeds United LFC) replacing the unlucky Johnstone. They were quicker to the ball and playing more up the pitch. Fay did not get too much time to settle before Panico tested her nerve with a firm shot. However, the ball was wide and never troubled Fay. With Scotland playing for the equaliser, they did run the risk of a breakaway at the back. It was a close thing just ten minutes into the second half as the ball found Gabbiadini free just 20 yards from goal. She did not hesitate long before firing in a powerful shot that thumped off the advertising hoardings behind the goal. Scotland were starting to play some slick football with some neat interplay between Ferguson, Little, Hamill moving the ball quickly to a just offside Fleeting who was keen to get on the score sheet. She did not have long to wait before another opportunity arose. Scotland were awarded a free kick on the left about 23 yards out and Fleeting made sure she was the one to take it. Despite the wall breaking and heading towards her, Fleeting lifted the ball perfectly into the postage stamp of the visitors goal.
Fleeting waves to the crowd after her goal
Italy did not wilt after that, as they were keen to repeat the win enjoyed by their coach Pietrio Ghedin, in January 2006. However, they found Fay in fine form as she dominated her goal area. The game was tilted more towards Scotland when another free kick was awarded roughly in the same place as for the first goal. This time, Hamill showed anything Fleeting could do, she could do better. This time the ball was floated to the other to corner and the result was the same.
Hamill celebrates her goal with teammates
Scotland had the ball in the net for a third time with just two minutes to go but it was ruled offside. Kirsty McBride (Hibs LFC) just failed to get her name on the score sheet by inches before slipping the ball past Carla Brunozzi (Bardolino Verona ASD CF) in goal. She earned a ticking off from the ref for playing on but she did not appear that bothered. Even with 3 minutes of extra time, Italy did not have time to recover and get even a draw. There were a couple of corners for the visitors that could have created problems but Fay managed to scoop the ball off the head of an attacker before diving at the feet of Paoloa Brumana (Graphistudio Tavagnacco) as she bore down on goal.
Scotland celebrate their win
In contrast to the Italian coach
An enjoyable game, free from complaints to the referee, decisions accepted instantly and only one booking. A Scotland win to boot. No wonder it is called Good Friday.
Scotland: Johnstone (Fay 45), Ferguson, McDonald, Kerr, Ross (Jones 60), Little (Malone 89), Love, Sneddon, Burns (McBride 81), Fleeting, Hamill (Grant 85)
Subs not used: Dieke, Brolly,
Goals: Fleeting, Hamill
Italy: Brunozzi, Cassanelli (Rota 55) , Valeri, Tuttino (Domenichetti 76), Tona, Perelli (Ugolina 57), Gabbiadini, Conti, Panico (Brumana 59), Zorri, Fuselli (Iannella 89)
Subs not used: Marchitelli, D'Adda,
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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