Deflated Scots criticise referee but also blame themselves

Paris (AFP) –


In the early hours of Friday, a group of Scottish fans outside the Parc des Princes in Paris were still singing: "We hate you FIFA, we do."

Scotland had just been eliminated from the women's World Cup after conceding three times in the last 16 minutes to draw 3-3 against Argentina.

The final goal came in added time from a penalty awarded by North Korean referee Ri Hyan Gok after consulting VAR, saved by Lee Alexander, only to be retaken after a review showed both her feet were in front of the line when the kick was struck.

Scotland lost their first two games 2-1, conceding from a penalty in both.

While the Scottish fans blamed world football's governing body, the team were torn between pointing at the officiating and their own inexperience.

"We feel really hard done by," said coach Shelley Kerr.

The penalty decision was not the only Scottish complaint.

Kerr said there was an Argentine foul in the build-up to the goal by Milagros Menendez in the 74th minute that started the Argentine comeback.

"The first goal changed everything," Kerr said.

Kerr tried to bring on Fiona Brown for the last few minutes. But after Lisa Evans came off, Brown was still on the touchline waiting when the corner that led to the penalty was taken.

"We were making a substitution and our player wasn't even on the pitch," said Alexander. "The ref didn't even realise."

Sophie Howard fouled Aldana Cometti in the 86th minute. After the reviews and retakes, it was converted by Florencia Bonsegundo in the 92nd minute. Ri played only two additional minutes.

Both the Scots and Argentines complained that they had been deprived of five minutes to score the winner both teams desperately needed.

"The tournament's been difficult," said Scottish midfielder Leanne Crichton. "Decisions have gone against us. Perhaps the bigger teams get the correct decisions."

Yet the women's team had followed the template established by Scotland's men in the days when they used to qualify for major competitions, raising hopes only to crash out at the group stage.

- 'See the game out' -

Kim Little, Jen Beattie -- whose rugby-playing father John once scored a try for Scotland at the Parc des Princes -- and Erin Cuthbert had given Scotland a 3-0 lead after 69 minutes.

"We were 3-0 up and comfortable," said Kerr. "For 70 minutes we were very good but we didn't manage to see the game out."

Victory would have given Scotland three points and probably taken them to the last 16 as a best third-placed side, yet at 3-0 they were still pressing. The Menendez goal came on an Argentine counter attack.

"We knew it would come down to goals," Kerr said. "We wanted to score goals."

Cuthbert was selected player of the game.

"The player of the match is absolutely no consolation for how I'm feeling," she said.

"I feel a bit empty. I feel as if I gave everything out on the pitch tonight."

"Hopefully that's not the end for us," Cuthbert said. "We've got Euro qualifiers to try and pick ourselves up and we hope that major tournaments become the norm for Scotland."

"We need to use this as motivation."