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Cuthbert scores, but Scotland throw away lead against Argentina amid latest VAR farce

Women’s World Cup: Scotland 3-3 Argentina

Photo by Marianna Massey - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Drawn into a tough group featuring 2015 runners-up Japan and one of the big favorites in England, Scotland opened their first ever Women’s World Cup finals tournament with back-to-back, near carbon copy 2-1 losses, coming to the brink of elimination.

On Wednesday however, they faced Argentina, who had managed a 0-0 draw against Japan before losing narrowly to England up to that point. Scotland needed a win to keep their hopes alive of reaching the second round as one of the best third-placed teams in the group stage (4 of the 6 third-placed teams advance to the Round of 16).

Led by Chelsea rising star and one of the players to watch this tournament, Erin Cuthbert, Scotland accordingly flew out the gates, taking an early lead and building a three-goal advantage by the 70th minute. Cuthbert, having created the first goal, then scored her first ever World Cup goal to make it 3-0, and whipped out a picture as part of the celebration, paying tribute to fulfilling her dream as a child and to her father for always believing in her.

“He said ‘don’t leave without saying goodbye’ and disappeared back into the house, which I thought was strange. Then he came out and gave me this wee picture, maybe about the size of a bank card, of me when I was a kid outside Ibrox with a Rangers ‘trackie’ on. He said to me, ‘I know how much you say you do it for us, but you have to do it for yourself’ and he had written on the back of this picture ‘Do it for this wee girl who had a dream and practised and practised until it came true’. It had two Xs and two Os on it - he’s never sent me an X on a text in my whole life!

“I could tell he was bubbling up but we had a cuddle on the driveway and I managed to keep it together until I drove away... then I burst into tears. I was bawling all the way up the road to meet the squad. I was in a pure state but it just reminded me that the next time he’ll see his wee girl is playing in a World Cup.”

-Erin Cuthbert; source: BBC

Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

That dream however turned into a nightmare in the next 20 minutes, though not without a strong helping hand of VAR and football’s continuing evolution away from common sense application of the various laws and regulations of the game.

Five minutes after Cuthbert’s goal, Argentina got on the board and five minutes after that, they got a second as well, credited as an own goal to Lee Alexander after she tipped a long shot onto the bar only for it bounce down and in off the back of her hand. Scotland had played so well up until those goals, but now were barely hanging on. And worse was to come.

In the 86th minute, substitute Sophie Howard, with practically her first involvement in the game, tripped Aldana Cometti in the penalty area. It was a fairly obvious foul, but still went to a lengthy video review. By the time Florencia Bonsegundo ran up to take her kick, the clock was ticking past 90. And by the time she went to take it again, after yet another length video review, it was reading well past it (90+4) — Alexander saved the first penalty but was adjudged to have left her line early, which, if she actually did, she only did so by the tiniest of margins.

Then, to complete the farce, the referee blew her whistle to signal the end of the match, with nothing other than video reviews and two penalty kicks having transpired since the 86th minute.

Scotland protested. So did Argentina. Nothing made sense.

Cuthbert was named FIFA’s Player of the Match, but with the draw, Scotland finish bottom of Group D and were out, while Argentina await their fate based on the results of tomorrow’s games.

And VAR, and refereeing in general, takes another massive L.

In the other Group D match, England took care of Japan without much controversy, 2-0, with Manchester City new signing Ellen White scoring both goals. Chelsea captain Karen Carney collected the assist on the second, making her third substitute appearance of the tournament already. Millie Bright got the start in central defense while Fran Kirby was rested by head coach Phil Neville and Carly Telford rotated back out in goal in favor of Karen Bardsley.

England were already assured of a place in the knockout round and with the win, complete a perfect three-for-three in the group stages. They will next take on one of the third-placed teams in Sunday’s Round of 16 match.

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