An early VAR-awarded penalty put Scotland on course for an opening 2-1 defeat against England at the World Cup in France.
Phil Neville’s Auld Enemy hung on to the two-goal advantage they held at half-time in Nice, with Claire Emslie’s goal for Shelley Kerr’s team getting the Dark Blues back into things in the Group D curtain-raiser.
Scotland started brightly, but – on five minutes – right-back Sophie Howard had to move sharply to head a wicked cross from her England counterpart Lucy Bronze behind.
On 13 minutes, Nicola Docherty was controversially penalised via the video assistant referee after her hand diverted Fran Kirby’s right-wing cross. It was unlucky, but Docherty had “made herself bigger” in contravention of the rules, although many would argue those are not fit for purpose.
Nikita Parris made no mistake to find the left top corner from 12 yards, giving the diving Lee Alexander no chance of getting there.
On 19 minutes, Kirby shot wide of the left upright from the edge of the area.
England were working the ball left and right, and delivering balls into the box for fun. Two minutes later, Ellen White brought a brilliant save from Alexander with her legs at the near post, before the striker headed home – only for that goal to be chalked off for offside.
Scotland eventually got a foot on the ball around the half-hour mark, with Aberdeen’s Rachel Corsie coming close to heading an equaliser from a long free-kick, only to see the ball whistle just past her.
Soon England were back testing Alexander, who to her credit was having a great game.
However, Scotland’s inability to get the ball clear soon saw them punished.
Kirby broke a tackle from Corsie on the edge of the area and, with the ball dropping perfectly for her, White curled left-footed into the bottom corner past Alexander.
It was a sickening blow, but Erin Cuthbert almost pulled one back soon after when she lashed across goal and inches wide on 42 minutes.
Right from kick-off for the second half, England had another goal ruled offside, with Beth Mead denied.
Scotland registered their first shot on target after 56 minutes, Emslie driving down the right and forcing keeper Karen Bardsley to smother her low effort.
They were much improved in the second period, with Cuthbert and Emslie seeing plenty of the ball without there being much in the way of chances.
Bardsley had to react to tip an inswinging corner away from the England goal with 25 minutes to play.
On 70 minutes, Alexander did well again to stop a close-range White volley, which really would’ve ended the contest.
However, the Dark Blues were pushing forward and taking risks, and it looked like it would eventually tell.
Scotland pulled one back on 79 minutes. Emslie bursting by England left-back Alex Greenwood to smash Lisa Evans’ poked through ball past Bardsley from just outside the six-yard box.
Despite getting the goal back, any chance of an equaliser in the final part of the game was dashed by English composure and loose passing from Kerr’s team.
Japan are next up on Friday, then Argentina. Three points could be enough to send Scotland through to the knockout stages.