Scotland women beat New Zealand 3-2 in Cyprus Cup

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland in Larnaca
Jane Ross opened the scoring for Scotland
Jane Ross opened the scoring for Scotland in in Larnaca

Scotland opened their Cyprus Cup campaign with a win over New Zealand.

Jane Ross scored early, following up after a shot from Christie Murray hit the crossbar, with Rosie White levelling for the Kiwis.

Substitute Erin Cuthbert thundered in a great strike on the turn after 83 minutes and captain Kim Little fired the Scots further ahead.

New Zealand, world-ranked 19th, two places above Scotland, pulled one back with a late Amber Hearn header.

The scoreline could have been more emphatic had the Scots converted a number of good chances, but it is the start to the tournament they wanted.

The Cyprus Cup is familiar territory for Scotland, having taken part in the annual invitational for nine of the past 10 years. Their best finish came in 2011 when they ended the tournament in fourth place, but with many of the bigger nations no longer taking part, hopes have been raised.

This year, though, the focus is primarily on preparation for the European Championship in Holland, which takes place during July and August.

With key players missing through injury for their first game, against a side two places above them in the world rankings,external-link it was always going to be tough, and New Zealand started with a real drive and determination.

Shannon Lynn in the Scotland goal was forced to pull off a couple of fine close-range saves, but in the Cypriot sunshine, Anna Signeul's side started to find their rhythm and after just nine minutes they were ahead.

Doncaster Rovers striker Murray watched her looping shot crash off the bar, but when it bounced at the feet of Manchester City's Ross, she made no mistake on the angle.

It was a bad error, though, that led to the equaliser 10 minutes later. Lynn tried to pass the ball out under no real pressure but New Zealand's White anticipated and intercepted before slotting under the goalkeeper from around six yards out.

Scotland should have been ahead before the break but Bayern Munich midfielder Lisa Evans blasted high over the bar from 10 yards out with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Lynn saved well from a long-range effort at the start of the second half as New Zealand started to turn the screw, taking advantage of some slack Scottish passing.

But as the game progressed, Signeul's side started to find their feet again and took the lead lead with a stunning strike from 18-year-old substitute Cuthbert.

The Chelsea midfielder swivelled and fired a right-foot rocket into the right-hand corner of the net after good build-up play from Fiona Brown.

The ever-impressive Little put Scotland 3-1 up from close range after another good cross from Brown, and as the game entered the dying stages, New Zealand pulled one back through Hearn.

Scotland head coach Anna Signeul: "I think we dropped a little bit in the second half in the middle, but when we made substitutions, we picked it up a little, then I thought we were really dangerous again.

"It was great to see Fiona Brown, Lizzie Arnot, Erin Cuthbert come on and really blend in, and everyone understand what we want to achieve in defence and attack.

"Leanne Crichton and Kim Little in the middle were fantastic on the ball. If we're playing four-four-two, that's what we're looking for. And the switch of play and penetrating runs they had - I'm very pleased.

"We've said before we've struggled with physical teams, and I think we showed today that we are getting better physically."

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