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Serbia 0-0 Scotland: Scots start Euro 2025 qualifiers with drab draw in Leskovac

Scotland started their Euro 2025 qualification campaign with a lethargic draw in Serbia as their run of winless competitive games stretched to eight.

In a quirk, both sides goalkeepers were replaced and Pedro Martinez Losa's side failed to test either Serbia goalkeeper.

Scotland, as top seeds, had hoped to record a first competitive win since October 2022 but will need to try again against Slovakia on Tuesday at Hampden on matchday two.

Serbia were the more dangerous and will be encouraged by going toe-to-toe with the top-ranked team in the group.

A sloppy and disjointed start was encapsulated by Scotland goalkeeper Sandy MacIver's early exit following an innocuous landing when collecting a routine ball.

In a half that offered few chances, Erin Cuthbert failed to put her laces through a shot from the edge of the area and her tame effort was turned wide by goalkeeper Milica Kostic.

Glasgow City's Lee Gibson replaced the injured MacIver and she may count herself lucky when she spilled a comfortable catch, with Serbia players claiming she regathered the ball behind her goalline.

The hosts created few clear-cut chances, with a perfectly timed Nicola Docherty challenge halting Allegra Poljak as she drove at goal with only Gibson to beat.

Glasgow City winger Lauren Davidson struggled to make an impact on her first international start and was replaced at the break with Jane Ross.

Within minutes, the veteran striker smacked a shot against the crossbar from just outside the area.

That near-miss failed to breath life into a lethargic Scotland side and they created nothing in the final stages

Instead, Sophie Howard - who enjoyed quite the tussle with Jovana Damnjanovic - lost her footing and gifted the Bayern Munich forward a clear run-in on goal only for her shot to trundle into Gibson's knees.

This is yet another performance and result that leaves many a question over the national team.

Player of the match - Sophie Howard

Scots slack and slapdash - analysis

In the days leading up to this Euro 2025 qualification campaign opener, Martinez Losa spoke of the energy and passion he had seen from his players in camp. His wish for that to show in action was not granted.

The Scots were slack and slapdash and, while they dominated possession, it was the Serbs who probed the most.

Perhaps that was due to the presence of Damnjanovic. The 29-year-old plays at the highest level in Germany and was by far the best player at Stadium Dubocica.

In stark comparison, Scotland started with Davidson through the middle - a player who arguably plays her best club football out on the wing.

It's small margins at the elite level and a star striker really could be all the difference.

However, it was not just a striking issue for Scotland. There was a lack of zip in midfield.

Bayern's Sam Kerr was the opposite to her club team-mate and was extremely quiet, while Cuthbert - who is so often turned to for a moment of stardom - could not muster up any tricks.

On paper, this was the hardest game of the group out of the way. However, Scotland are still the top seeds in this group and the longer this winless run in competitive fixtures continues, the louder the criticism will be.

What they said

Scotland head coach Pedro Martinez Losa: "I think it was a game of two different phases. We had good moments on the ball, opportunities in the final third and I think, the second half, the opponent had a good level in the final third and we had moments where we made sure we didn't lose the game and we also had moments where we could have won the game but we didn't take advantage.

"This result can be good if we can get the three points on Tuesday, or if we beat Serbia at home. I think this is about the campaign. We picked up a point away from home against the most difficult opponent. Everything else is irrelevant."

Scotland defender Sophie Howard: "I think we are disappointed not to get more, but in the end, it was a deserved point for both teams.

"I think we could have given the game away at the end, but we showed great character to hold on, put bodies on the line and just disappointed not to get more."

What's next?

Scotland take on Slovakia at Hampden on Tuesday, 9 April with a 19:35 BST kick-off, while Serbia take on Israel at 15:00 on the same day.