England went into this game against Russia as the favourites to win after a shock defeat to Spain. Russia, who are the lowest ranked team in the competition, have never got out of the group at the Euros and certainly weren’t expected to change that this tournament.
In Russia’s first game, they performed poorly against a good France team who are one of the contenders to go all the way. Russia lost 3-1 and got exactly what they deserved.
For the first quarter of the game, the three lionesses were on top and put plenty of pressure on the Russian defence but they couldn’t get the crucial goal to take the lead. The closest England got to a goal was a shot from midfielder Jill Scott who smacked the post. The other main chances for England were Houghton’s header who missed from only six yards out, and Alex Scott nearly marked her century appearance with a goal with her weaker left foot, but it spun wide of the post.
England suffered a big loss in the 17th minute after winger Rachel Yankey was taken off because of a suspected hamstring injury. This was a big loss for England because it meant they lost their only left footed player on the field, and they also lost creativity along with experience.
England couldn’t score whilst they were on top and they paid the price shortly before the break when a scuffed shot from Terekhova found the head of Korovkina from two yards out. Korovkina gave England a warning sign early on in the game with a curling shot from 20 yards that nearly found the top corner.
In the second half, England should have got an early equaliser when sub Carney curled the ball in for White on a plate but she couldn’t get the right connection from a couple of yards out.
This was England’s last chance for a while because Russia started to push for a second to put the game to bed. For the short spell of the game that the Russians were on top they failed to score and then it turned into a midfield battle.
Hope Powell made an attacking change to see if her side could get the win they needed. Powell brought off the left back Houghton and brought on the young talent of Toni Duggan who plays for Everton. The pundits at half time wanted Duggan to be involved in the game so she could gain experience and add more pace and enthusiasm to England’s play.
However, Powell’s team could have been 2-0 down if the ref would have gave the penalty when Alex Scott brought down Sochneva. As an England fan watching on an that point, I was thinking the worst but also at the back of my head I could imagine Duggan saving the day by getting a late double.
Hope made possibly one of the biggest gambles of her career when she brought on the injured Kelly Smith, who hasn’t played since March. Smith injected England with a lot of urgency and a good example of it was when Smith got the ball from the goalie and just ran all they way up the field with plenty of passes to her team mates. You could tell that Smith really wanted to change the game around to keep her country in the tournament.
Inside stoppage time, Duggan nearly found an equaliser when White headed it on and Duggan tried to lob the keeper but only found the crossbar. However, Duggan did get what she and England deserved when Smith’s shot deflected of the arm of the Russian defender found Duggan who tucked it into the far corner with her left foot to give Todua no chance.
My woman of the match was Toni Duggan because she completely changed the game for England and grabbed the goal to give her country a lifeline. She added that little bit extra to the team and she definitely showed why she should be starting in the crucial game against France. I think that Duggan should be given the chance to show what she can do against the French along with Jordan Nobbs because they are both raring to go. Also it would help them gain some vital experience in a major tournament so it could help England in the future.