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By Christian Isnard
Natalia Barbachina scored a hat-trick as Russia earned a play-off berth for the UEFA European Women's Championship with a 5-2 victory against France in Dijon.
France, who had already confirmed their place in next summer's finals, came into the game unbeaten in qualifying having conceded just one goal in six games. But Barbachina wasted no time in breaching the usually resilient French defence, opening the scoring after just three minutes. Laëtitia Tonazzi equalised soon afterwards, but by the time Barbachina added her second, Russia already held a commanding lead.
Elena Fomina and Olga Letiouchova scored either side of half-time before Barbachina made it 4-1. Although Hoda Lattaf responded immediately for France, the 31-year-old Russian striker restored the three-goal cushion and completed her hat-trick with just three minutes remaining.
The victory means that Russia, regardless of the result of their final group game against Hungary next Sunday, will finish second in Group 3 behind France and play-off over two legs to join them in England.
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