Euro 2017: Scotland 1-2 Portugal - Leite grabs winner in Rotterdam

Scotland fell to their second defeat as Portugal found their best form to come away with their first win and leave themselves with a slim chance of progressing at Euro 2017.

Scots start strong

A clumsy challenge just outside of the box saw the first chance two minutes in. Caroline Weir’s free kick blasted into the wall before the Liverpool woman overcooked her second effort and it drifted out of play at the back post. A sprint down the right saw Ana Borges away, her dangerous cross in was headed behind by Ifeoma Dieke for an unsuccessful short corner before the Scots broke without consequence.

A long ball played over for Lana Clelland had the Scottish fans in full voice, her attempted curler of little worry for Patricia Morais as it wrapped behind. Again Scotland marched forward Weir’s low effort from the right saved but let go by Morais, Clelland’s follow-up a miss-kick before she could sort out her feet, her second bite of the cherry crashed against the woodwork. Another ball from the left had the Portugal defence scampering as Fiona Brown dinked the ball in for Weir, her header cleared out to Clelland who again failed to control the ball first time, the chance gone.

Mendes grabs opener

The breakthrough came just before the half hour when Diana Silva took off on another sprint, leaving Vaila Barsley red-faced after she could only kick the air as she attempted to clear Silva’s deflected cross. Carolina Mendes was on the spot to pounce and wallop past Gemma Fay and into the ball into the hungry net.

Another jinking run from Brown saw her deliver the ball into the box. Not one blue shirt was lurking as the ball was cleared into midfield. Rachel Corsie’s half-volley from 30-yards sent wide. Gifted a golden chance to double their lead after a sloppy challenge on the edge of the area, Claudia Neto could only catch the top of the wall with her chipped effort, letting the Scottish defence breathe easy once again.

Portugal probe for a second

Still confident after their first-half goal, Portugal started the second-half strongly, keen to hound and harass the Scottish defence, blue shirts pushed back by red. Borges and Neto linked well on the right as the Scottish midfield dropped deep, desperately trying to prevent surrendering another goal. In a nod to their mood, Weir unenthusiastically tried her arm from 30-yards, the shot nowhere near the target, relieving any mounting pressure in an instant.

Another weak attack saw Portugal come away with it again, red shirts flooding forward as Diana Silva curled the ball across the face of goal. Vanessa Marques’ effort blocked, Scottish bodies dived in left, right and centre to clear. There was no question that Portugal were the team in the ascendancy.

A clear chance fell the way of Scotland half-way through the second-half when Brown took off flying down the left wing, her cute cross millimetres ahead of Erin Cuthbert as the teenager flew in. The chance, however, signalled a momentum shift and the Scots found an equaliser moments later when Weir and Cuthbert linked up on the left side of the box, the latter able to pick out the far corner with a toe-poke.

The goal geed Portugal back up and they nearly hit an instant reaction with Mendes’ shot going just wide. The scores didn’t stay at deadlock for long, however, as just like Cuthbert for Scotland, Portugal could rely on their own impact sub, Anna Leite, the one to give them the lead once more. A long goal kick was headed on in midfield, Leite the one to run in behind and win her footrace against Barsley. Fay over-committed as the ball rolled past and into the far side of her goal.

No late surprises

After their second goal, Portugal only saw more and more of the ball, finding their attacking form that had been so frequently absent against higher ranked teams. The wind only blowing one way as the fourth goal of the game begged to be scored.

With little more than five minutes left, Scotland dug deep to bring the ball away from their own defensive half, Cuthbert the one leading the charge, her lay-off off to weird smashed against the far post. With the ball still live in the box Hayley Lauder did her best to set up a teammate but her ball back in only fell the way of Portugal who were ready for a backs to the wall last few minutes.

Struggling to find their best form all game, Scotland sagged after some early pressure, a lack of finishing in the early exchanges enough to undo them at one end as, just like in their previous outing, their defence hindered them at the other. Portugal only grew throughout the game with a real sense that they were the better side in Rotterdam, their hopes of progressing still alive.