Scotland beat Albania 5-0 to go top of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Group 2 (UEFA).
The rain was pouring down at St Mirren Park, making conditions difficult, but Scotland adapted to the conditions and played with an impressive tempo and attacking desire. The opening goal came in the 21st minute when Lana Clelland’s header crossed the line after a mix-up between the Albanian keeper Marigona Zani and Lavdie Begolli. Just after the half-hour point, Scotland doubled their lead as Chloe Arthur’s shot deflected off the crossbar and Fiona Brown blasted in her first Scotland goal.
Two second-half minutes saw Scotland go 4-0 up, with Jane Ross reacting quickest to a parry from Zani, before Claire Emslie’s looping shot curled into the top-left corner.
Scotland knew that a four-goal winning margin would see them go to of their group, but at the end of the day, the three points were always going to be more important. Straight away, Scotland was testing the Albanian keeper Marigona Zani, with Claire Emslie and Caroline Weir drawing good parried saves from stinging shots.
Lana Clelland came close to opening the scoring when her shot deflected off a defender and looped up past the keeper, and hit the crossbar. From the resulting series of corners, Scotland took the lead. Emslie’s delivery found Clelland, and her header should have been saved, but Lavdie Begolli managed to tap the ball past Zani and into the net.
Scotland went looking for their second goal, with Leanne Crichton having a shot saved by Zani and Emslie shooting just over from a free-kick.
And then, they did get their second as Fiona Brown scored her first senior international goal in her 24th cap. Chloe Arthur shot from around 30 yards but her effort smashed off the crossbar, and despite being surrounded by three Albanian defenders, Fiona Brown managed to blast the ball into the ball of the net with a delightful finish.
The nearest Albania came to threatening Scotland’s keeper Lee Alexander came in the 42nd minute, but Megi Doci’s free-kick was straight at Alexander and lacked the power to threaten her.
And Scotland could have been 3-o up at half-time, but Jane Ross headed over from close-range.
Half-Time: Scotland 2-0 Albania
Scotland did make it 3-0 in the 54th minute. A corner was played short to Claire Emslie and her cross was cleared to Emma Mitchell. Her shot from outside the box was parried and it was Jane Ross who reacted quickest to score.
Two minutes later, it was 4-0 to Scotland and it was a stunning goal. On the edge of the box, Emslie curled the ball, looping past the reach of the keeper and into the top-left corner.
Despite going 4-0 up, Scotland carried on dominating looking for more goals. Arthur’s cut-back found Caroline Weir and her deflected shot just went wide of the target.
Captain Rachel Corsie saw her header deflected over before Mitchell came close to scoring but her effort went wide.
Second-half substitute Lisa Evans looked like she was going to score after being played behind the Albanian defence, but her close-range shot just went the wrong side of the near post.
But then, she did score after Emslie’s wonderful cross picked her out at the far post and she picked out the top-left corner with a header.
In second-half stoppage time, Albania came close to a consolation goal. Zylfije Bajramaj’s shot from the edge of the box beat Alexander and smashed off the crossbar.
Scotland: Alexander; Arthur (Frankie Brown 81), Beattie, Corsie (c), Mitchell; Crichton, Weir (Cuthbert 65); Emslie, Jane Ross, Fiona Brown; Clelland (Evans 75).
Booked: Arthur, Beattie.
Albania: Zani; Bajraktari, Curraj, Rrahmani, Gjini; Franja, Begolli, Doci; Krasniqi (Jashari 83), Bajramaj, Maliqi (Kurbogaj 87).