Sweden had not enjoyed a winning feeling in their last eight opening fixtures in the final stage of major tournaments but that all changed in Turku as they scored twice inside the opening 15 minutes to defeat Russia.
Headers from defender Charlotte Rohlin and captain Victoria Sandell Svensson left Russia with a huge task against a side that did not concede in eight qualifiers, and Caroline Seger's superb finish late on sealed the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ Group C points. It was the first time Sweden had won a major tournament opening game since beating Russia on home soil in the 1997 UEFA European Women's Championship.
Teenage goalkeeper Elena Kochneva, who only made her debut on 13 August, was soon at the centre of things, taking a clean catch from the game's first corner but then threw the ball straight to an opponent. It put her side under more pressure which they only survived at the expense of another corner. Therese Sjögran knocked it deep to the far post, Kochneva slipped and could not intercept and that gave Rohlin a simple header.
A Seger shot soon after was not claimed cleanly by the goalkeeper but luckily for her the ball slipped wide of the post. However, it was 2-0 when Lisa Dahlkvist unleashed a powerful shot from outside the area which might have had enough pace to beat Kohneva anyway. The veteran Sandell Svensson put her head in the way and was rewarded as the ball diverted into the opposite corner of the net.
Tatiana Skotnikova, the Russian captain, used her creative intelligence to try to stir a recovery and there were a few 'nearly' moments that gave her team hope. However, Hedvig Lindahl in the Sweden goal remained relatively untroubled until the 32nd minute when a free-kick prompted a scramble in the Sweden penalty area. The ball dropped for Olga Petrova but she drove it over the bar.
The half-time introduction of Elena Danilova, prolific as a teenager but only just recovered from serious injury, added more bite to Russia's attacks, yet they could not break through and the impressive Seger wrapped it up with eight minutes remaining with a lofted drive from outside the area. Sweden will next face Italy, 2-1 winners against England, here on Friday while Russia will try for their first European finals victory in eight attempts against Hope Powell's side.