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Northern Ireland women can take positives from Scotland defeat in Pinatar Cup closer

Northern Ireland 1 Scotland 2

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Rachel Furness put Northern Ireland ahead.

Rachel Furness put Northern Ireland ahead.

Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Rachel Furness put Northern Ireland ahead.

Two goals in the space of three minutes saw Northern Ireland fall to a 2-1 defeat to Scotland in their final game at the Pinatar Cup in Spain.

After taking an early lead through Rachel Furness, Northern Ireland could have gone further ahead before the Scots struck twice in quick succession late in the first half.

Despite the defeat, Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels will be hugely encouraged with the performance - particularly in the first half - against a team ranked 22nd in the world and who were close to making the knockout stages of last summer's World Cup.

Northern Ireland got off to a dream start, netting the opening goal after just five minutes.

The ball broke to Lauren Wade on the left after a strong challenge by Sarah McFadden. She skipped past Rachael Boyle and delivered a cross into the six-yard box, where Furness got in ahead of the Scottish defence to head home.

The same combination almost brought about a second goal on 15 minutes when Wade sent a low cross into the box to Furness, who had the ball taken off her toe just as she shaped to shoot.

Furness came close again on 27 minutes when she got onto the end of Demi Vance's delivery from a right-wing corner and saw her header hacked off the line.

The Scots suddenly sparked into life and took the lead with two goals in just three minutes.

Their first on 35 minutes was well worth the wait as Erin Cuthbert intercepted Emma McMaster's clearance on the left wing, cut inside and hit a right-footed shot that curled away from goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns, who had taken a step to her right, and ended up in the far corner of the net.

Scotland quickly struck again in rather fortunate circumstances.

Julie Nelson did well to make the initial interception as Lizzie Arnot attempted to find Abbi Grant inside the box, but she couldn't get the ball under control to make a clearance and Grant nipped in to hit a first-time shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Scotland got stronger in the second half with the introduction of Manchester City's Caroline Weir and Manchester United's Jane Ross, but they found Burns in inspired form.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Burns, McMaster (Newborough, 61 mins), Nelson, Hutton (Finnegan, 80 mins), Vance, McCarron (Bell, 46 mins), McFadden, Furness, McKenna, Magill (McGuinness, 80 mins), Wade (Callaghan, 71 mins). Subs: Crooks, Callaghan, Burrows, Maxwell, Howe.

SCOTLAND: Lynn, Corsie, Docherty (Mitchell, 17 mins), Boyle, Howard, Murray (Crichton, 66 mins), Grant (Lauder, 76 mins), Thomas (Muir, 84 mins), Graham (Weir, 66 mins), Cuthbert, Arnot (Ross, 84 mins). Subs: Alexander, Fife, Kerr, Godfrey.

Belfast Telegraph