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Belarus off to winning start at Estonia's expense

Belarus 2-1 Estonia
First-half goals by Olga Novikova and Olga Aniskovtseva ensured Tatiana Volkova's side made a winning start to EURO 2013 qualifying Group 5.

Belarus goalscorer Olga Aniskovtseva (right) up against Anete Palus
Belarus goalscorer Olga Aniskovtseva (right) up against Anete Palus ©Anastasia Zhiltsova

A strong first-half performance ensured Belarus made a winning start to UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying Group 5.

Goals in the first 45 minutes from Olga Novikova and Olga Aniskovtseva gave the hosts a two-goal lead. Although Liis Emajõe pulled one back with 19 minutes left Tatiana Volkova's side held on for a well-deserved victory.

Belarus dominated the early stages, going ahead just after the half-hour when Anna Tatarinova's long shot was saved, but Novikova got to the rebound first before unleashing a fierce 25-metre drive into the top left corner. Though Estonia came close to an equaliser a minute later, when Inna Botyanovskaya denied Margarita Žernosekov, the hosts continue to push on. Aniskovtseva was initially frustrated by a fine Elis Meetua save but finally beat the Estonian No1 on the stroke of half-time when she headed in Irina Tretiakova's cross.

There was a glimmer of hope for Keith Boanas's charges in the 71st minute when they reduced the deficit through Emajõe, who scored at the second attempt after being put through by Katrin Loo. But Belarus held on, settling for a narrow win, which might have been more convincing had Tatyana Shramok converted Ekaterina Avkhimovich's left-wing centre with six minutes remaining.

Estonia resume their campaign at home to Ukraine when qualifying around Europe begins in earnest on 18 September, while pacesetters Belarus welcome Finland on 27 October in their next fixture. Slovakia are also in the section, which is the second to begin with Iceland having previously beaten Bulgaria 6-0 in Group 3.