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Women's Football News
The final round of matches in Group B is shaping up to be a shootout between Germany and Sweden after both recorded their first victories of the tournament against Italy and Russia respectively.
Sweden were up first against Russia and they were quickly out of the blocks, Olivia Schough bringing out a good save from Tatyana Shcherbak with a volley. Kosovare Asllani was to go even closer minutes later with a drive from 20 yards which crashed against the bar.
The pressure was to tell at the midway point of the first half though, as Sweden took the lead. Magda Ericsson pumped a free kick from deep into the area, Shcherbak came out and missed the ball, allowing Lotta Schelin to head into the empty net.
Russia's best moments were coming from lone striker Elena Danilova and she forced Hedvig Lindahl into a smart save from one effort but Sweden were continuing to dominate with Schelin going close to a second as she drilled a shot across the face of goal and just beyond the far post.
Danilova was just off target with a long range strike and Linda Sembrant headed inches wide from a corner as Sweden took their lead going into half time.
The Swedes only had to wait six minutes for the second to come though, Stina Blackstenius forcing her way through the Russian defence before steering her shot past Shcherbak, despite Kozhnikova's best efforts to keep it out, the defender only being able to help it on it via a post.
It was comfy for Sweden from this point and their two-goal lead was never seriously threatened. Schelin could have made it three when she headed over from a corner and Sembrant somehow managed to fail to hit the target from a yard out but a draw in their final match should be enough to take Pia Sundhage's team into the quarter finals.
Germany then took on Italy at Tilburg and also looked to get off on the front foot, Babett Peter heading wide from a corner early on. Italy setted down well though and began to look sharp on the counter attack.
It was the holders who were to take the lead on 19 minutes though, Dzsenifer Marozsan's free kick into the area was fumbled by Laura Giuliani and Josephine Henning ran round to head the ball into the empty net.
Giuliani atoned for her error with a great save, tipping Anja Mittag's powerful strike over the bar, however then a clever corner routine almost led to a second but Sara Dabritz' shot came back off the near post.
Italy then produced a reply of their own; a counter attack which led to them levelling the scores. Tina Bonansea sped down the left and her low cross was turned home at the near post by Ilaria Mauro for the equaliser.
Mauro's joy was sadly not to last for too long as she left the field on a stretcher with an ankle injury just before half time. Her strike though was to see her side go into the break on level terms.
Mandy Islacker became the second German player to hit the post early in the second half and the striker went close again two minutes later as her header was clawed away by Giuliani.
Back came Italy with a good spell of their own but Germany began to get on top again and were awarded a penalty when Mittag was brought down by Giuliani. Peter stepped up to confidently find the net from the spot and put her side back in front.
Things got worse for Italy shortly afterwards as they went down to ten players after Bartoli was shown a second yellow card. Germany began to ramp up the pressure as they sought a third with Giuliani making good saves from Marozsan and Dallmann.
Needing a goal to stave off elimination, Italy threw everything they could in search of an equaliser and it nearly came when a stinging free kick from Bonansea brought out a fine save from Schult.
There were to be no more major scares for the Germans though and they were able to secure the win they needed which takes them closer towards a place in the last eight. Despite a spirited effort, Italy became the first team to be eliminated from the competition and will be rueing their surprise defeat to Russia in the opening game.
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