SHELLEY KERR says she is proud of her players’ efforts at the World Cup, even although her squad lost their chance of reaching the last 16 in dramatic and controversial circumstances.

The head coach’s pre-tournament aim of reaching the knock-out stages was thwarted in time added on at the Parc des Princes. Two VAR decisions allowed Argentina winger Florencia Bonsegundo to beat Lee Alexander from the penalty spot at the second attempt and make the score 3-3.

It was the last in a series of big

decisions which went against Scotland in the Group D games, the first two ending in 2-1 wins for England and Japan. Nevertheless, Kerr admitted her players should have managed their 3-0 lead better in Paris, instead of allowing Argentina to score three goals in the final 16 minutes.

Cameroon’s 2-1 victory against New Zealand yesterday meant that a 3-2 win for Scotland would have seen Kerr’s team face Germany tomorrow.

“You need time to reflect on why things go wrong and once we get that we’ll learn,” Kerr said. “We’ve been exciting and I really hope the folk back home appreciate what the players have achieved, rather than what they didn’t quite manage to, because that’s what they deserve.

“I’m proud of all their efforts. To keep going right to the end, the values they have as a group, the challenge they’ve faced along the way, the things that have gone against them; I’m convinced they’ll come back stronger from it all.”

Kerr admitted the events at the end of the Paris game would be hard to erase.

“What happened in the last period will stick with us for a long time,” she said “We’ve all had disappointments in the past, but this was on a different level, considering what was at stake.

“The big thing for us, though, is that we’ve proved we belong on this stage. We’ve handled ourselves at the highest level and we can only benefit from that.

“We were magnificent for 70 minutes and, of course, we should manage it better, but when a team get goals back at that time of the game it’s tough, it changes everything. We’ve asked the players to be expansive, to go and attack because of the goal difference scenario, but – yes – we should defend better as well.

“What I’m still scratching my head at, though, is how there were so many errors by the officials throughout the match. It’s just incredible.

“We’re making a substitution and the referee is letting play go on, there’s two balls on the pitch at one point, she’s missed at least one red card for Argentina. I’m trying hard not to get dragged back into it, but it really is tough not to. Whatever anyone says, we’ve been extremely unlucky with big calls at vital moments.”

Scotland central defender Jen Beattie, whose goal in Paris was sandwiched between those of Kim Little and player-of-the-match Erin Cuthbert, said: “To say we were all totally gutted is an understatement. To see a 3-0 advantage slip away is absolutely devastating. We needed to control that last 15 minutes but we didn’t.

“I was on such a high after scoring but then came the low of the re-taken penalty. You do get highs and lows in sport but this was something else.

“Games like that one, you need to keep control and be smart. You must manage it but maybe we just lacked a little bit of experience.

“This will take a very long time to get over. We all feel pretty hard done by and it really hurts. Being honest, we had one foot in the next round. To see that slip away is very tough.”