ANNA Signeul said she couldn’t be prouder of her players after they snatched a late draw against South Korea.
The Koreans won third place in the tournament on penalties, but Scotland’s fourth place equalled the previous best in 2011.
“That was a hard game,” the coach said after Kim Little’s late strike. “To persist until the end and score the goal shows great character – we are becoming a team of winners and that makes me so proud.”
For most of the Scotland players it was the fourth game in eight days, all of them against higher ranked nations. The exertions of the three Group B games took their toll while the Koreans, who won the developmental Group C to earn their crack at third or fourth place in the tournament, looked much fresher.
“South Korea really wanted to win the game,” Signeul said. “They were tough and they were fast.
“We wanted to keep a clean sheet, but although we didn’t quite manage it Gemma Fay made some great saves.
“We have Ian McCaldon, the goalkeeping coach, to thank for that. He has been working so hard with Gemma – and she has been open minded and taken on board a lot of things.”
Although she didn’t add to her tally, striker Lisa Evans won the award for top scorer in the tournament.
There were two changes to the side which started against Australia, with the Glasgow City pair of Nicola Docherty and Jo Love coming in for Ifeoma Dieke and Emma Mitchell.
There was none of the intensity of the group games and Fay twice rescued her side in the opening 15 minutes. On both occasions South Korea striker Yoo Young-ah got behind the defence but failed to capitalise thanks to the Scotland captain.
With the Scotland midfielders and strikers lacking the energy of previous games there were few chances at the other end. Jenny Beattie and Little had attempts on target, but they were easily saved by Kim Jung-Mi in the South Korean goal.
Scotland came much closer with two chances at the start of the second half but the game had reverted to its first half pattern when South Korea took the lead after 63 minutes – striker Yoo sending a shot past Fay from the edge of the box.
The Koreans twice came close to adding to their lead, with Fay again making vital saves, before Scotland finally summoned up the reserves to salvage the game.
Beattie hit the bar and substitute Joelle Murray had a shot cleared off the line before Little ensured it would be an unbeaten tournament with a shot across Kim and into the far corner.
More drama was to follow when South Korea defender Shin Damyeong was shown a straight red for a bad foul.
With the game in injury time, 20-year-old Celtic midfielder Heather Richards was introduced for her Scotland debut.
Rachel Corsie scored Scotland’s first penalty in the shoot-out, but Kim then saved from Jane Ross, Beattie and Megan Sneddon.
France won the tournament when they beat England 2-0 in the final in Nicosia.
Emphasising how well Scotland, who drew with France, did in the group matches, the two teams they beat had emphatic last day wins – the Netherlands beating Switzerland 4-1 and Australia walloping Italy 5-2.
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