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Scotland's opening game of the Women's Under-17 Tri-Nations Tournament ended in defeat, after Germany raced to a four-goal first half lead in the Stadium Osvaldo Martini.
Despite the scoreline, it was a confident performance from the young Scots against a very strong German side and a battling second half display left Coach Ann-Helen Grahm counting the positives.
Sofia Nati opened the scoring for Germany, before Lena Lotzen grabbed a hat trick inside 38 minutes. Scotland did not let their heads go down and came out fighting in the second half, with Sarah Ewens finishing off a well-worked move to pull one back in the 49th minute.
Goalkeeper Nicolle Andrews started the move with a flick on to Ewens just inside the German half. She laid the ball off to Lana Clelland, before getting on the end of a sublime pass to coolly slot home under pressure from the German defence.
Coach Ann-Helen Grahm said: "We can take a lot of positives from today's game, particularly our second half performance, which was very strong defensively. It was disappointing to lose early goals, but we kept going and really tried to keep our shape and play the game our way.
"Germany are an excellent side, but we contained their forwards in the second half and controlled a lot of the play. There were some excellent individual performances, and Sarah Ewen's goal was well deserved."
For Scotland's second match against tournament hosts Italy, there was a fantastic atmosphere at Stadium Giovanni Bui, with hundreds of local schoolchildren cheering on the teams and cameras beaming the match live on Italian TV.
The game started at a very high tempo, with Italy looking bright in their first match of the tournament. Scotland initially seemed sluggish, playing just 24 hours after their match against Germany, and they were stung when Mason opened the scoring for Italy in the 19th minute.
The goal sparked Scotland into action as they began to take control of the game and Hibernian's Ellen Pia grabbed a well deserved equaliser six minutes later.
It was end-to-end stuff for the rest of the first half as both teams looked to take the lead, with great attacking and defensive play all over the park.
The game settled down in the second half, and it was a very even contest, with both teams looking confident and well organised. But there was heartbreak for Scotland as they lost two late goals. With the team flagging in the intense heat, Italy wrapped up the win when Piai scored with five minutes to go, and Alborghetti made it three with a last minute penalty.
Coach Ann-Helen Grahm said: "It was tough to lose two late goals. With our hectic schedule and the intense heat, tiredness crept in towards the end of the match and we were punished, but overall I was pleased with the performance.
"It was a fantastic game, and very entertaining for those watching at the stadium and at home. Both games were useful for us, and the players have learned a lot from this trip." (www.scottishfa.co.uk)
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