Wales secured a comfortable 3-1 victory against the defending champions Scotland in the opening game of the 2022 Pinatar Cup in Spain. Although Pedro Martínez’s side scored first, the return of familiar defensive failings and a standout performance from Jess Fishlock meant Wales progressed to the semi-finals.
On Saturday they will play the winners of the Belgium v Slovakia match that takes place on Wednesday night, with Scotland facing the losers. Before then Martínez’s squad must contemplate where their defensive performance went so wrong.
Kayleigh Green and Fishlock caused the Scotland back four considerable distress. They targeted their opponents’ right flank, where the right-back, Sophie Howard, and right-sided central defender, Lisa Robertson, struggled to remain disciplined.
A swashbuckling run from the Wales captain, Sophie Ingle, culminating in a pass round the corner to Fishlock, left the pair in disarray. Fishlock had her shot blocked but it was the blueprint the Wales attack needed to begin stretching Scotland’s defence, which Green did moments later with a header that Jenna Fife tipped over.
Scotland’s response was to switch tactics and channel their attack down their right. The effectiveness was immediate. Christy Grimshaw’s cross was headed in by Lana Clelland to open the scoring in first-half stoppage time, yet minutes later they conceded when Jenna Clark’s tackle on Green brought a penalty converted by Fishlock.
Any Scotland hopes of a more solid display in the second half were snuffed out by repeatedly playing out from the box when opportunities were sparse. This led to possession being lost in dangerous zones, and Fishlock made the most of the next Scotland kerfuffle, scoring from six yards after a backheel by Natasha Harding, before Harding beat Fife at the near post from Green’s cross to make it 3-1.
Although Scotland had promising spells, chiefly via Caroline Weir down the left, they were outnumbered in midfield and created problems for themselves, allowing Wales to threaten from almost every attack.
After Saturday’s matches, both teams will play a third and final game of the tournament on Tuesday.