Earlier than they travelled to Portugal, Scotland knew they might not afford any extra slip-ups of their quest to succeed in the Girls’s European Championship in 2022. However then they misplaced in Lisbon. Now, even three wins from three will not be sufficient.
After defeat final month in Finland, it’s back-to-back losses for Shelley Kerr’s facet with a spot on the Euros in critical jeopardy.
They host Finland at Easter Street on Tuesday (19:30 GMT) in a match the place defeat may finish their qualification hopes. And supervisor Kerr must anxiously watch from residence due to being pressured to self-isolate after coming into contact with a optimistic Covid-19 case.
It’s a enormous night time for Scotland. Can they nonetheless attain the finals?
Group favourites foundering
The 9 group winners and three finest runners-up qualify routinely for the finals in England, with the six different sides ending second going right into a play-off.
Scotland are the seeded crew in Group E and commenced as favourites to safe prime spot within the group. However they presently sit third.
After beginning the group with thumping wins over Albania and Cyprus, and with an combination rating of 16-0 after three wins from three, they’re now one defeat away from the exit door.
They got here unstuck in Helsinki final month, shedding 1-0 to former boss Anna Signeul’s Finland. And, on Friday, they went down 1-0 to Portugal.
A win won’t be sufficient
After enjoying Finland, in February Scotland are away to Cyprus earlier than finishing the group at residence to Portugal.
Even a win at towards Finland doesn’t put qualification again in Scotland’s personal palms. Finland would nonetheless lead Scotland by some extent and, offering they win each of their remaining video games (away to Cyprus and residential to Portugal), Signeul’s facet will win the group.
Likewise, if Portugal beat Albania and win in Finland when the perimeters meet in February, Scotland couldn’t catch them both, even when they win their last group sport at residence to the Portuguese.
So Scotland must win all three remaining video games and hope Finland and Portugal draw after they meet. The 2 sides drew 1-1 in Lisbon earlier within the group, with Finland scoring a last-minute equaliser.
Draw and so they want favours
A draw with Finland wouldn’t swap off the lights on qualification simply but, however it might go away Scotland in deep trouble.
Portugal are anticipated to beat Albania on the identical night time, that means Scotland could be six factors behind them and 4 behind Finland. Kerr’s facet may now not win the group and ending as among the best runners-up is more likely to be unimaginable too relying on how different outcomes go, leaving a play-off as their solely path to the finals.
With Finland extremely more likely to win away to Cyprus, who’ve misplaced each sport within the group so far, Scotland would as an alternative be left praying for a Finland win over Portugal to arrange a final-day showdown with Portugal. A 1-0 or a two-goal win would then no less than safe second place and a play-off spot.
Lose and Scotland’s solely hope could be that Portugal do not win at residence to Albania. They’ll know the results of that sport earlier than they kick off towards Finland.
If Portugal slip up, Scotland may nonetheless catch them in second so long as Signeul’s present crew do her previous facet a favour.
It would effectively be that Scotland need to undergo a two-legged play-off to succeed in the finals in England, however it’s not a route through which they’ve had any pleasure beforehand.
Thrice they’ve been within the play-offs and thrice it has been painful.
In 2008, they completed third of their European Championship qualifying group however had been one of many fourth-best third-placed sides. They misplaced 3-2 at residence to Russia and, regardless of a gallant 2-1 away win within the second leg, they went out on away objectives.
Their bid to succeed in Euro 2013 damage much more. They completed second of their group – their solely defeats coming towards red-hot favourites France.
Within the play-off, they drew 1-1 with Spain at Hampden, with goalkeeper Gemma Fay saving an important late penalty, however within the away leg, it was as merciless an exit as they ever may have suffered.
Scotland led in regular time and additional time, however each occasions had been pegged again. They had been nonetheless heading by means of on away objectives when Spain had been awarded a late, late penalty. Fay saved it and Scotland thought they’d made it by means of, solely to concede with the final kick of the sport within the 122nd minute.
Two years later and their hopes of reaching their first World Cup relied on a play-off after ending second behind Sweden, however they had been paired with the Netherlands, shedding 4-1 on combination.
Kerr and her squad may need to depend on overcoming their play-off blues to succeed in the finals in England.