Football Features

Scotland 3-3 Argentina: The winners and losers as Cuthbert brilliance undone by another VAR farce

By Chris Smith

Published: 22:07, 19 June 2019

Despite racing into a 3-0 lead, Scotland crashed out of the 2019 Women’s World Cup after a 3-3 draw with Argentina.

The Scots looked unstoppable going forward, with Erin Cuthbert causing havoc for the Argentine defence. But after conceding two goals in quick succession, all of Scotland’s hard work was undone when VAR awarded their South American counterparts a penalty in stoppage time.

Lee Alexander saved the spot kick but, again, VAR spotted the ‘keeper slightly off her line and ordered a retake, with Argentina snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat.

Here are the big winners and losers as Scotland crashed out of the Women’s World Cup.

Winner – Erin Cuthbert

After two games as a peripheral figure, struggling to get involved in play and being a little let down by her teammates, Erin Cuthbert was absolutely fantastic against Argentina.

The Chelsea forward was at the centre of everything Scotland did well, dropping deep to link play, running at the Argentina backline with real menace and showing just why she is so highly rated.

Cuthbert completed six dribbles on Wednesday night – more than in her other two games combined – with no player managing more, while she also created two chances for her teammates.

The 20-year-old showed exactly what she is capable of when she ghosted through the Argentine defence in the first half and when her initial shot was saved, she had the presence of mind to cut it back to Kim Little, who fired home to give Scotland the lead.

And in the second half, it was Cuthbert who was lurking for the second ball this time, scoring the rebound from Leanne Crichton’s missed header after Cuthbert herself won the set piece with some more dazzling dribbling.

This is what we’ve all been waiting for.

Loser – Lee Alexander

While Cuthbert, Little and co. were busy destroying Argentina, Lee Alexander spent much of this game as a spectator. Even so, she still couldn’t keep a clean sheet at this World Cup, although that will be the least of her worries now.

Shortly after Cuthbert had fired the Scots into a 3-0 lead, Argentina broke through Dalila Ippolito, who then fed the ball to Milagros Menendez. She raced clear toward Alexander’s goal and slotted beyond the Glasgow City stopper to give her side the faintest glimmer of hope.

Moments later, Flor Bonsegundo fired a shot from just outside the area onto the underside of the crossbar. Given how central the shot was, Alexander should have done a little better but the pace took it past her before she could react. After being 3-0 up and in control, Scotland were suddenly being pegged back and Alexander’s clean sheet was ruined.

And just when it seemed Alexander had her redemption, saving Bonsegundo‘s penalty, VAR spotted the slightest of movements off her line and requested the spot kick be taken again. Bonsegundo didn’t make the same mistake twice and fired home to send Scotland crashing out.

“We deserved to win the game,” Alexander told BBC Scotland after the game.

“Countless decisions went against us in the tournament. It’s hard to put into words but we know we belong on this stage.

Winner – Shelley Kerr: Part 1

In her usual, candid style, former USA international and BBC pundit Hope Solo has sunk her teeth into Kerr at every possible opportunity. On Wednesday, though, it was the Scotland manager’s time to strike back.

Did Scotland ride their luck in the first half? Sure, Argentina did hit the bar, after all. However, the link-up play between Cuthbert and Little and midfield control of Weir were all exactly what Kerr has been trying to install throughout this entire tournament so far.

Argentina don’t quite possess the attacking talent to hurt the big sides in this tournament but as they showed against England and Japan, they’re robust and dogged in defence. Scotland, though, cut through them like a buzzsaw in what felt like a massive release of creative tension. Credit to Kerr for sticking to her guns.

Loser – Shelley Kerr: Part 2

Yes, Kerr is both a winner and a loser. While Scotland finally showed all of the attacking prowess they’ve been desperately searching for throughout this tournament, they ultimately failed to make it through the game.

To get caught on the break when you’re 3-0 up is simply criminal and a testament to the flaws which still run through this Scotland squad and it’s manager. Solo is likely to go to town on this one.

Unfortunately the verdict is out if she is a great tactician and right now I have my doubts.

Hope Solo on Scotland manager, Shelly Kerr

And then, just after conceding, when it was clear Scotland had finally tried to go compact and bunker in, Kerr’s side lost all organisation. Bonsegundo was given far too much space to fire her shot home for Argentina’s second before Aldana Cometti was hacked down in the box by Sophie Howard with VAR eventually seeing the penalty given.

Bonsegundo scored at the second attempt after VAR ruled out Alexander’s save for stepping off her line and when it had seemed certain Scotland were heading into the knockout rounds, they were out against a side that just two years ago didn’t even have funding from their FA.

Winner – Kim Little and Jennifer Beattie

Until Wednesday, Scotland had never scored a first-half goal at a Women’s World Cup, failed to take the lead in the tournament and hadn’t managed more than one goal in a single World Cup game.

Of course, when you’re relatively new to the major tournament cycle, your players get the chance to re-write all of this history.

First, Little put the Scots 1-0 up after 19 minutes, making a run into the Argentine penalty area to be on hand for Cuthbert’s cut-back. Just like that, Scotland had a first-half goal.

Then, right after half-time and with Shelley Kerr’s side coming out with a point to prove, Beattie got on the end of a cross from the brilliant Caroline Weir to score her first goal since 2015 to seemingly put her side in complete control and into the knockout rounds.

Things ultimately collapsed for Scotland. These two will be wishing they could go back to their euphoric moments again for some time.

Loser – VAR

Sure, it was probably a penalty. Just. Sure, Alexander moved a foot off her line. Just. But for all its success in Russia last summer, VAR is becoming a heartless animal, taking and giving as it pleases and in the most unceremonious fashion.

The way the VAR decisions were enacted in Paris on Wednesday night was nothing short of a disgrace, with absolutely no clarity or cohesion and denying Alexander a moment of heroism for what was the slightest offence, if any at all.

The fourth official – who also delayed Fiona Brown’s introduction as a substitute during the crazed ordeal – then only signalled the four minutes of added time once the 94th minute had just ticked by, with referee Hyang-OK Ri signalling for full-time straight after. Argentina’s players didn’t know whether to celebrate, some Scottish players fell to the floor and others surrounded her asking how the whistle could be blown when VAR had caused such extended chaos.

What an absolute mess.