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England still alive after fightback
 Women's Football News 29 Aug 2009
 
England still alive after fightback - 29 Aug 2009 - Women's Football NewsEngland 3 (Carney 24, Aluko 32, K.Smith 42)
Russia 2 (Tsybutovich 2, Kurochkina 22)

England revived their Euro 2009 hopes by fighting back from two goals down to beat Russia 3-2 in a very eventful game in Helsinki which keeps their rollercoaster campaign going.
 
Sweden's 2-0 victory over Italy meant that a defeat would have eliminated England but they now require a point from their final match after managing to overcome a woeful opening 20 minutes to turn the game around before half time.
 
Kelly Smith returned to the starting line up in place of Jill Scott while Rachel Unitt and Lindsay Johnson replaced the suspended Casey Stoney and injured Anita Asante respectively.
 
Russia could have taken the lead in the opening minute through a well struck volley from Valentina Savchenkova which was turned over the bar by Rachel Brown. However from the resulting corner, Ksenia Tsybutovich was left completely unmarked and she planted a powerful header into the back of the net.
 
Savchenkova should have made it two as she planted a glorious chance wide ot the goal but England began to show as an attacking force with Kelly Smith bringing out a save from Elena Kochneva. Faye White was unlucky not to equalise from a corner when, similarly unmarked by the Russian defence, she thumped her header against the bar.
 
Russia were to double their lead midway through the half as a speculative long ball forward from Tsybutovich was missed by both Johnson and White and this allowed Olesya Kurochkina to run through on goal and touch the ball past the advancing Brown.
 
However England's reply was a quick one, just two minutes later they were back in the game. Karen Carney, who had a disappointing game against Italy, was back to her best in this match and she marked her 50th cap by cutting in from the left and drilling a low left foot shot beyond the dive of Kochneva and into the far corner of the net.
 
Oksana Shmachkova could have restored the two-goal advantage as she fired wildly over the bar following a good run by Elena Morozova but England got the equaliser they craved just after the half hour mark. Carney was again heavily involved, sliding a neat ball into the path of Eniola Aluko whose shot beat Kochneva at her near post.
 
England looked good going forward but were all over the place at the back and struggled to cope with the pace of the Russian forwards, in particular Morozova who carved out another chance for Tatiana Skotnikova but she was denied by a superb diving save from Brown.
 
The comeback was complete three minutes before half time, with a goal of the highest quality. Kochneva's clearance went straight at Kelly Smith, just outside the centre circle, and the England star took one touch before returning her shot back over the head of the keeper to put her side ahead for the first time.
 
The hectic pace of the game continued after the break and Russia were almost back on terms through another long ball not being dealt with and Kurochkina stole in to lob the ball over Brown but, fortunately for England, just over the bar as well.
 
Savchenkova put a good chance wide of the far post after another good run and cross from the speedy Morozova as Russia furiously sought for a way back into the game.
 
England's shoot-on-sight policy from the first half continued as Kelly Smith and Fara Williams both sent long range efforts wide and, with Russia firmly committed forward, the game flowed from end to end.
 
Jess Clarke replaced Sue Smith as a second half substitute and the young Leeds Carnegie winger could well have put the game beyond doubt when Carney's cross just evaded Williams and found its way to Clarke at the far post but she miscued her effort wide.
 
The tension rose in the final minutes and some less than composed defending made matters more anxious for England. At the other end, Aluko fired an ambitious angled volley over the bar but the last minute of injury time brought a huge scare as Kurochkina drilled a 20-yard shot inches past the post. There was no time to take the resulting goal kick and England could finally breathe again.
 
England therefore sit in third place in Group C, because of having lost to Italy, but a positive result against Sweden will see them through to the quarter finals. Four years on from Euro 2005, they find themselves in exactly the same position in their final group game - needing a point against the Swedes to qualify.
 
England: Rachel Brown, Alex Scott, Rachel Unitt, Fara Williams, Lindsay Johnson, Faye White, Karen Carney, Katie Chapman, Eniola Aluko, Kelly Smith, Sue Smith (sub Jess Clarke 66mins).

Russia: Elena Kochneva, Natalie Pertseva, Oksana Shmachkova, Ksenia Tsybutovich, Elena Fomina (sub Natalia Barbashina 76mins), Elena Morozova, Valentina Savchenkova, Elena Danilova (sub Olga Petrova 43mins), Olesya Kurochkina, Olga Poryadina (sub Nadezhda Myskiv 90mins).

 
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