The two teams could not have been more different: Scotland with a professional team and Argentina who are part time amateurs. Historical and farcical.
The world cup feeling has taken over; match three of this year’s edition saw once more history been made by Argentina. Yet, it looked all over with 70 minutes gone. When the moment came, it had whiff of farce about it. This should not diminish the effort Argentina put in yesterday. Quite to the contrary, they were excellent in mounting such a comeback.
Scotland came into the game better and recorded their first chance within seconds after kicking off, though the shot went wide and was not at all dangerous. Argentina were for most parts on the back foot and rarely made any forward movements that were precise or even threatening. They had however, the first corner of the match after just eight minutes following some nice build up play. They had a foot in the door and had not come to give it up easily. It was a pity that Argentina could not more often exploit the gaps in the Scottish defense. Alas, for the final pass. For most parts the match was free flowing with little interruptions which gave this game some of its intensity.
In this period of the match, Scotland were too often hoofing the ball out of play or upfield. This was poor. Out of nowhere suddenly came the lead for them as Erin Cuthbert had a shot saved but the rebound flew only as far as her team mate Kim Little who had no problem to convert from two yards. The ground erupted.
If this was a blow to Argentina it was not visible, on they went in search of a goal but time and again they were denied by their own short comings or by Scottish alertness. The Scots were never out of the game, they sprang into action just too seldomly. Technically, they were far superior; no surprise here as they are all full time professionals playing against amateurs. And they made Argentina pay for their mistakes. Just after the re-start, Scotland scored because the South Americans were caught napping collectively and Jenny Beattie had no difficulties to score.
No one would have blamed the Argentinians if they let their heads drop, the stress of a tournament, three matches in nine days and being together around the clock just takes its toll on the players. It was only a matter of time before Scotland would score a third and the game would be over. That it took them almost twenty minutes until the 69. minute is down to Argentina not letting them in and Scotland administering their lead efficiently. The third goal came after a header following a corner was superbly saved but the rebound only flew as far as Erin Cuthbert who flicked the ball into an almost empty net.
Surely that must have been it. Three goals down Argentina could nonetheless be proud of their achievements here. What followed though was a historical moment and a farce at the same time.
It took five minutes for Argentina to score. Their number 11, Milorga Menendez was free on goal and nutmegged the keeper. It was ecstatic for those supporting Argentina. If this was good, it was going to get better as only six minutes later a speculative if not desperate shot by Florencia Bonsegundo went in due to hitting the cross bar and being fumbled over the line by the keeper. 3:2 and game on. The rest of this game was only Argentina playing who sniffed blood. Just fourteen minutes after their first goal, a foul in the penalty area demanded VAR coming into action. An endless wait later the referee decided what most already knew: penalty. She instructed the keeper while Scotland’s number four berated the Argentinian penalty taker, Bonsegundo. She got away unpunished, not even a verbal warning was issued. The penalty was saved and the match resumed. Another point for Argentina was not going to come. Yet, fate and VAR had the last word. There was an infringement by the keeper and thus the penalty had to retaken. No mistake this time the keeper went the wrong way and the South American supporters mad.
Officially, there were four minutes of added time but since confusion reigned the referee ended the match with many questions unanswered and too early. The Scots have only themselves to blame for their collapse, Argentina have shown what they are capable of and FIFA have a few questions to answer regarding VAR and the fitness of their match officials.