A stunning winner by Kelly Smith from the centre circle helped England storm back from two goals down to beat Russia and keep their quarter-final hopes alive at UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™.
England, who had only ten players for most of their opening 2-1 defeat by Italy, went into the Group C game knowing they would be out of the tournament if they lost, as the now-qualified Sweden had earlier beaten the Azzurre 2-0. But Russia needed less than two minutes to take the lead through Ksenia Tsybutovich and Olesya Kurochkina made it 2-0 midway through the half. Karen Carney came swiftly to England's rescue, drilling home their first goal just two minutes later and then dinking the ball through for Eniola Aluko to equalise ten minutes after that.
Smith completed the comeback three minute before the break with a breathtaking strike, trapping goalkeeper Elena Kochneva's 35-metre drop-kick in mid-air, allowing the ball one bounce and then sending a dipping half-volley from the centre circle which even the back-pedalling Kochneva could not keep out. As a result, England now only need a draw in their final game against Sweden on Monday in Turku to go through at least as one of the best two third-placed teams. Russia, who opened with a 3-0 loss to Sweden, must beat Italy in Helsinki to have any chance of progressing to the last eight.
The frustration for Russia coach Igor Shalimov will be that his side had made a great start at Helsinki Football Stadium, Tsybutovich meeting Elena Morozova's corner with an unstoppable header. Tsybutovich then turned provider with her clever long ball upfield soaring over Alex Scott, fellow defender Faye White miskicking her interception and Kurochkina being left to slip the ball past the advancing Rachel Brown against the run of play.
England rolled with the punches, though, and Carney, who had been their brightest attacking threat, soon hauled her side back into the game. Smith scrambled the ball to her under pressure on the right and the winger had time to line up an angled shot from the edge of the area into the far corner. Carney then followed up by feeding the ball behind the Russian defence for Aluko to beat Kochneva at her near post. Cue Smith for her showcase strike and a goalless second half which clearly suited Hope Powell's side, though they rode their luck at times.