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Italy produced a display of attacking desire and endeavour but it was not enough to prise open Finland as the opening game of UEFA Women's EURO 2013 finished goalless at Örjans Vall.
Italy's reputation for being defensively stable – garnered from a qualifying campaign in which they did not conceded once – was in danger of being sorely tested after news broke earlier today of Elisabetta Tona's tournament-ending injury. The Azzurre's makeshift backline nonetheless held their nerve, while a stream of free-flowing combinations brought no reward at the other end.
Fuelled by patient and belief-imbued football, Italy made the initial inroads as Elisa Camporese's effort broke to Alice Parisi, who sliced wide at the second attempt. Melania Gabbiadini's surging run and shot then induced palpitations among the sizeable contingent of Finland supporters, yet goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela was equal to it.
Andrée Jeglertz's team toiled in vain to contain their vibrant opponents, whose invention almost paid rich dividends after 20 minutes. A beautifully crafted set piece punctured Finland's scrambling ranks, though its final recipient, Gabbiadini, could only fire straight at Korpela. The ubiquitous forward passed up another opportunity moments later, driving centimetres wide on the angle after taking receipt of Patrizia Panico's probing pass.
Finland emerged re-energised after the interval, while Italy refused to betray their meticulous passing principles. Buccaneering winger Alessia Tuttino swept the ball across goal, evading a host of expectant team-mates, while Parisi and Gabbiadini resorted to speculative efforts.
Antonio Cabrini's charges continued to press ahead but a goal was not forthcoming. Panico missed her kick when well-positioned, before Gabbiadini engineered a crossing opportunity without finding a taker for her delicate back-post delivery. With Italy's frustrations simmering, the team in white and blue sought a sting in the tail, Nora Heroum combining intuitively with substitute Jaana Lyytikäinen before slashing over.
A rare moment of adventure from the Scandinavian outfit opened the door for Tuttino at the other end, yet the midfielder's stinging close-range drive was beaten away by Korpela. Finland then finished with a flourish, but there was to be no breakthrough in Halmstad.
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