Finland set down a marker ahead of UEFA Women's EURO 2013 with a convincing 5-0 friendly defeat of an experimental Russia side at the indoor Eerikkilä Sports Centre.
In the nations' now traditional game to start the year, Finland were on top from the start and three up by the break. In a further boost, striker Linda Sällström ended a long injury absence after half-time – and scored within four minutes.
An early chance for Sanna Talonen was well saved by Russia goalkeeper Elena Kochneva, but 22 minutes in she was beaten as Jaana Lyytikäinen set up Marianna Tolvanen to find the corner of the net. Finland continued to dominate, although Olga Petrova had a decent chance after the half-hour, only for Minna Meriluoto to save comfortably. Six minutes before the interval Lyytikäinen chipped in brilliantly to double the lead, and Emmi Alanen added a third from close range soon after.
Sällström tore an anterior cruciate ligament against Slovakia last April and Finland's key striker had not played since, but after her half-time introduction she was swiftly back on the scoresheet. Russia kept pressing at four down, yet late on Susanna Lehtinen's cross was headed in by Adelina Engman, like Lyytikäinen opening her international account.
Home coach Andrée Jeglertz said: "
It's difficult to say how much the young players can still develop before the finals, but we're definitely on the right track. I am happy with the result and I am happy with our performance today. Russia are also preparing for the finals and 5-0 against them certainly is a score to be pleased with."
Russia coach Sergei Lavrentyev also reflected on a few positives for his inexperienced side, saying: "Our goal was to test some new girls and I'm satisfied with the performance of some of them; some disappointed me. I can't say we played badly but Finland took their chances while we didn't. I've said before that Finland are on a different level right now. They are mastering their team game while we are still in search of our best squad.
There's no tragedy in this loss, though there is a bitter aftertaste.
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