SCOTLAND'S hopes of retaining the Pinatar Cup ended at the first hurdle when they were beaten by a more resolute Wales side in Murcia. At best, the holders can now only finish fifth in the eight-team tournament.

Pedro Martinez Losa and stand-in captain Jen Beattie both emphasised after the game that the nine days in Spain are as much about training ground progress as results, but the manner of the defeat, with Wales dominating for a long spell in the second half, was nevertheless worrying.

As promised, the head coach opted for a new formation, which meant three at the back. Normal skipper Rachel Corsie was an absentee after failing to fly out with the rest of the players on Monday because of a setback in her recovery from Covid, so Beattie was in the middle with Glasgow City central defender Jenna Clark making a first start and Sophie Howard on the left.

“It's new for us but these tournaments are the perfect time to try it,” Beattie said after wearing the armband for the third time. “We knew mistakes were going to be made.

“This camp is about making the training time as useful as possible. It felt really good for some spells. I know we conceded sloppy goals again, and that seems to be our weakness at the minute. It's something we need to get on top of.

“It's always that typical lapse of concentration. It was frustrating because we wanted to go in at half time 1-0 up, but I thought we had some good spells in the first half.”

The opening 45 minutes at the Pinatar Arena were notable only for their lack of clear-cut chances, but six minutes were added on because of an early Welsh injury and produced two goals. Scotland's attacking threat, such as it was, had come down the left from Caroline Weir and Claire Emslie, but Jane Ross and Christy Grimshaw combined on the other side to set up a chance which Lana Clelland headed home.

Instead of going in a goal up, the Scots almost immediately conceded an equaliser. A long ball over the top caught out the defence and Clark brought down the dangerous Kayleigh Green in the box allowing Jess Fishlock to score from the spot.

Martinez Losa made three substitutions at the start of the second half and the move very nearly produced an instant reward. Grimshaw set up Emslie, but the normally deadly Everton winger fired the ball high over the bar.

There was a high price to pay when Wales got two quick goals. A brilliant back heel from Natasha Harding took out three Scottish defenders and Fishlock, who had a short spell on loan with Glasgow City in 2013, scored her second.

Then, with 61 minutes on the clock, Harding was the scorer, beating Jenna Fife with a flick at the near post. Scotland will now play Slovakia, who lost 4-0 to Belgium in the later game at the ground, on Saturday.