Strong defensive efforts end Germany-Sweden scoreless
For the first time in a competitive match, Sweden escaped unscathed and unbeaten by Germany. In each of their previous 11 meetings, Germany walked away the victors, but today Pia Sundhage’s side were able to hold Germany off and end the game in a scoreless draw. Germany, six-time reigning EURO Champion and a heavy favorite going into the match, outperformed Sweden in almost every attacking area, but Sweden’s defense, led by veteran defender Nilla Fischer, were able to prevent Germany from breaking the deadlock.
What the game lacked in goals, it made up for in the worst possible way: injuries. Both sides were forced to use substitutions for players who suffered what appeared to be hamstring injuries at different points in the game. Instead of the injuries setting a subdued mood over the game, they seemed to match the mood that had settled over the field after what was an extremely energetic and exciting opening 20 minutes. In that time, the two teams went back and forth for a total of 8 shots. In one such play, Germany was nearly gifted an opportunity early in the 9th minute when Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl took to the ground while making a save, only to have Anja Mittag make a run onto the rebound. Luckily for Sweden, Lindahl was able to get up and swat the ball away before Mittag could strike.
The last 20 minutes cranked up with an intensity that surpassed that of the opening 20 minutes as both sides became increasingly hungry for a goal. In the 71st minute, Stina Blakstenius made a run down the left flank towards goal, but Josephine Henning was on her heels, pulling her from behind to slow her down just enough before she fired off a shot that was saved by Almuth Shult. Towards the end of the match, Dzsenifer Marozsán connected with Mandy Islacker to create two chances on goal, but Lindahl and a lack of finishing kept Islacker from saving the day.
Russia get first ever EURO match win
Russia, playing in the EUROS for the 7th time, finally came out with a winning result, 2-1 over Italy in Group B play. Elena Danilova and Elena Morozova staked the Russians to a 2-0 lead after 26 minutes before Ilaria Mauro pulled one back in the 88th. That set the stage for a dramatic round of stoppage time during which Italy thought they had equalized only to see that the offside flag was up. They nearly equalized again moments later when the ball somehow stayed out during a scramble inside the six.
Danilova scored Russia’s first goal on 9 minutes when she beat Chiara Marchitelli at the near post from about 20 yards out. Russia doubled up in the 26th when Morozova got on the end of Ekaterina Sochneva’s corner kick and hit a superb header.
Italy clawed back off a throw-in that led to Cristiana Girelli driving a ball into the box. It looked like Tatyana Shcherbak had an easy path to come grab it but she hesitated which allowed Mauro to get there first and score.
Group B will be on hiatus until Friday, July 21, with Sweden and Russia playing at noon ET and Germany and Italy following at 2:45 p.m. ET. Tomorrow’s EURO action consists of Group C play, with Austria taking on Switzerland at 12 p.m. ET, followed by France and Iceland at 2:45 p.m. ET. All matches will be streamed live on ESPN3.