Natalia Barbashina came off the substitutes' bench to score an excellent solo goal that gives Russia the edge in their UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ play-off against Scotland.
Having been boosted by manager Anna Signeul's decision to sign a new two-year contract despite an offer from the United States, Scotland took the lead almost immediately though Pauline Hamill, only for Olesya Kurochkina to instantly level. Hamill then struck an excellent free-kick, but Natalia Mokshanova made the most of a penalty at the end of a frantic half-hour and Barbashina, on for Kurochkina, struck late on to give Russia renewed hope of reaching their first final tournament since the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Scotland, at this stage for the first time, began the game without captain Julie Fleeting due to suspension, but even without the scorer of 107 international goals, they were ahead after two minutes. Joanne Love played in a ball from the left that the Russia defence were not able to clear and Hamill's shot eluded the grasp of goalkeeper Elvira Todua. However, the celebrations had barely ended when Kurochkina broke free, outpaced the Scotland defence, and shot past Gemma Fay.
The home side were not disheartened, though, and in the 13th minute scored again. A Russia handball in a central position on the edge of the box conceded a free-kick which Hamill curled past the dive of Todua. Yet as the half-hour approached Michelle Kerr tripped Valentina Savchenkova in the Scotland box and Mokshanova slipped her penalty underneath Fay's dive for her eleventh goal in qualifying.
It was unlikely that the second half would start like the first though Olga Petrova, a half-time replacement in the Russia midfield for Elena Morozova, shot just wide after combining with Mokshanova. Russia coach Igor Shalimov also sent on Barbashina, and with 15 minutes left she set off on a surging run that took her past Kerr, fellow substitute Leanne Ross and Ifeoma Dieke before powering a shot inside the far post. Hamill hit the side-netting and Todua dived to save a Kerr header late on, but Signeul's side will have to score at least twice in Nalchik on Thursday, though they will have Fleeting back in the side.