As her team faces up to leaving UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ following their three group matches, Russia goalkeeper Elvira Todua told uefa.com she and her team-mates "could only blame themselves" for their premature departure.
Beaten 3-0 by Sweden as they kicked off their bid and 3-2 losers to England in a thrilling match at Helsinki Football Stadium last Friday, Igor Shalimov's side knew they had to beat Italy to stand any chance of snaring a berth in the quarter-finals. However, despite waves of attacks, particularly in the first half when it seemed inevitable they would eventually score, Russia came away from the match nursing a 2-0 defeat after the Azzurre plundered two late goals.
"Maybe we lacked desire or maybe we were unlucky, but something went wrong," said Todua, restored to the starting lineup after missing the first two games as she recovered from a knee injury. "In the first half we could have scored four goals," she said. "At half-time we substituted a defender for a striker and we staked everything on victory but eventually lost. Italy played on the counterattack and we had gaps at the back which they exploited ... We need to forget this match as if it were a bad dream."
Overall, the WFC Rossiyanka No1 feels her side let themselves down in Finland. "We didn't perform well," she said. "We have a strong team with strong players but we played very badly. Sometimes it was hard to understand what we were doing on the pitch." Not even the fact that Russia contributed fully to possibly the match of the tournament – after taking an early two-goal lead over England – was enough to soften Todua's stance. "We were a little frightened [of England]," she explained. "We sat too deep in defence and therefore they beat us. We progressed step by step but it wasn't enough.
"This is a serious tournament and we had serious opponents," she continued. "We prepared in the right way and though it seems something was done badly, the players can only blame themselves. There's no sense blaming anyone else." Above all, the 23-year-old is disappointed to be leaving the competition behind. "Many fans travelled here," she said. "Most of all I'll remember the atmosphere of this tournament, especially the supporters of the Finland team. The emotions were all very positive – it's a shame that for us the tournament is already over."
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