First-half goals from Elena Danilova and Elena Morozova handed Russia a surprise 2-1 win over Italy in the Group B opener at the women’s Euro in the Netherlands on Monday.
Danilova struck nine minutes into the game with a low shot from outside the box that took Italian keeper Chiara Marchitelli by surprise at her left post.
On 26 minutes, Morozova headed in Ekaterina Sochneva’s corner to give Russia a 2-0 lead which Italy merely reduced through Ilaria Mauro’s 88th-minute consolation goal.
Russia were avenging three 2-0 defeats from Italy at previous Euro tournaments, as well as a 3-0 loss in a friendly last December.
Russia’s high pressing kept Italy at bay most of the time, and when that failed, their 19-year-old keeper Tatiana Shcherbak came to the rescue.
Shcherbak cleared a long-range left-foot blast from Marta Carissimi in the first half and then forced out a vicious long-range shot from captain Melania Gabbiadini, curling into her top corner.
Two minutes from the end, Shcherbak failed to react to a random pass which Mauro barely touched and which ended up in the Russian net.
But she produced another superb save in stoppage time, sending Elisa Bartoli’s header onto the crossbar and the goal line, from which the Russian defence managed to clear it.
Group B’s second game pits eight-time champions and holders Germany against Sweden in Breda later on Monday.