A second-half goal by Lisa Alborghetti enabled hosts Italy to begin their UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship Group A challenge with a win against Russia.
Playing in a stadium which is located on the infield of the famous Imola race circuit, Italy got their campaign off to a fast start when Margarita Shirokova could only parry a third-minute shot by Claudia Mauri and Katia Coppola made no mistake from close range for the first goal of the final tournament.
Russia swiftly equalised through Nadezhda Koltakova − after Anna Cholovyaga stole the ball from the feet of Italy goalkeeper Laura Giuliani − but 16 minutes into the second period Alborghetti scored the goal which gives Corrado Corradini's team an early share of the Group A lead along with Switzerland, 4-1 victors against Belgium.
Somewhat culpable for Russia's equaliser, Giuliani made amends with two wonderful saves, both times denying the talented Snezhana Kobeleva, a constant thorn in the Italy defence. The Azzurrine responded with long-range shots by Coppola and Alborghetti, the first of which was well saved by Shirokova, while the second whistled just over.
With half-time approaching, Russia went close to taking the lead when Koltakova hit the bar with a well-struck free-kick. Russia had another great opportunity after the restart, Giuliani rushing from her line to block Cholovyaga's effort in a one-on-one situation, but paid for their profligacy when Alborghetti controlled a pass by Mauri in the penalty area and fired in with her right foot.
Giuliani was then forced into another save by substitute Anastasia Pozdeeva in what was the last of Russia's chances. They will look to respond to today's setback against Belgium on Thursday, when Italy meet Switzerland.
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