Scotland almost secured a place in the Women’s World Cup play-offs as a superb first-half performance was too much for Ukraine in Poland.
Scotland won 4-0.
Only an unlikely defeat by the Faroe Islands in September would derail Scotland’s attempt to finish second in Group B behind leaders Spain.
Caroline Weir’s early penalty was complemented before half-time by Erin Cuthbert and a brace from Martha Thomas.
Even if that were not the case, Hungary would need at least a point against Spain, a side they lost 7-0 at home last September, and hope Scotland do the unthinkable against bottom-placed Faroe Islands.
These playoffs could get complicated as you may have to travel across the world to qualify. But Pedro Martinez Losa’s side would have bitten off your hand before the game to take advantage of this opportunity.
Amid the emotions of a big night for Ukraine, about an hour from their country’s border, their players lined up for the anthem, draped in their country’s flag, much like their men’s team had before beating Steve Clarkes World Cup dream ended.
And they could have taken the lead within three minutes when, after Thomas was thwarted from close range, Kateryna Korsun galloped down the right wing to counterattack, picking out Nicole Kozlova in the box, who whipped her shot over the bar.
But luck was with Scotland. Just four minutes later, Claire Emslie appeared to kick Korsun’s leg, but the referee ruled it a foul the other way and pointed to the penalty spot.
Weir duly sent the penalty into the right post and the Scots were on their way.
The lead didn’t calm Scotland’s nerves either. Lee Gibson’s clearance put pressure on their defense, Sophie Howard spat possession and had Anna Petryk managed to hit her shot with more power Ukraine could have possibly been even.
However, it was soon 2-0. Thomas’s heel got in the way of Cuthbert, who rode a weak tackle and spun the ball past goalkeeper Kateryna Samson with a composed finish.
Before the game was over a quarter, the score was 3-0. Cuthbert’s corner found Thomas at the back post, who tapped him home.
And in almost a copy of the play came the fourth, again Cuthbert’s corner, which Thomas picked, flicking a header over a crowded box and into the far corner.
Just a shot on target prevented Thomas from scoring her first hat-trick for Scotland before she was substituted along with Cuthbert, who was unable to deflect a fierce challenge from Inna Hlushchenko.
Hlushchenko nearly scored on the right end of the park when her shot forced Gibson to tip over the bar in Ukraine’s best chance of the game, but Scotland’s goal was unbreakable. (BBC Sport)