Sweden and Germay picked up wins in Group B play on Friday to move to the top of the group, and both sides will need only draws against inferior competition when group play concludes next Tuesday. Sweden overwhelmed Russia, 2-0, but Germany—bidding for a seventh consecutive European crown—struggled to put away a pesky Italian side in a 2-1 victory. Despite a vastly better performance than the group opener against Russia, Italy were eliminated from contention to advance to the quarterfinals.
Germany scored in the opening 20 minutes following an Italian goalkeeping blunder and looked to be off to the races until the Italians went level through Ilaria Mauro near the half hour mark. Germany’s goal was tapped in by Josephine Henning after Italian keeper Laura Giuliani made a hash of Dszenifer Marozsan’s lofted free kick from distance. Ten minutes later Mauro got on the end of a Barbara Bonansea cross to culminate a quick-to-develop counterattack.
The Germans finally got the decisive goal after Sara Dabritz shook off pressure and slipped one through to Anja Mittag. Giuliani and Cecilia Salvai both challenged Mittag, and a penalty was called. After Salvai was treated by trainers, Babett Peter stepped up and buried the penalty in the 67th minute. Two minutes after the goal, Italy were reduced to 10 women after Elisa Bartoli was shown her second yellow card of the night.
Sweden had little trouble handling Russia, who became the latest side to be burned by goalkeeper error at the EUROs. In the 22nd minute, Tatyana Shcherbak misjudged a long free kick, coming off her line but not coming close to getting a hand on the ball. Shcherbak’s mistake was Lotta Schelin’s gain as she headed the ball into an open goal.
The match stayed 1-0 through halftime before Sweden went up a second goal in the 51st minute. Again Shcherbak was involved making a lazy goal kick toward her unsuspecting backline. Stina Blackstenius alertly pounced on it and then went work. Blackstenius shook two defenders and managed to get off a shot that worked its way in.
Russia now need to beat Germany to advance or draw and pray that Italy beats Sweden by enough goals to swing the goal difference in their favor. Any other series of results on Tuesday will send Sweden and Germany through to the quarters.
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