Russia kept alive their hopes of automatic UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualification with a home win that severely diminshed Austria's ambitions of reaching the play-offs.
Two goals from Natalia Mokshanova either side of an Olga Petrova strike put the home side in control with just half an hour gone and although Nina Aigner pulled one back, Austria rarely looked like reducing the deficit further. Russia were already sure of at least a play-off place and will now definitely finish in the top two of Group 6. But to head the pool and move straight into the finals in Finland, Russia must win in Poland on 27 September and then defeat leaders Norway in Krasnoarmeysk five days later by a better scoreline than 3-0.
Austria knew a win would give them a great chance of finishing as one of the four best third-placed teams, earning a play-off place, and on three minutes Aigner pounced on a Maria Dyatchkova back-pass but Russia goalkeeper Elvira Todua rushed off her line to block. Within two minutes Russia were ahead, Olga Letyushova's header teeing up Mokshanova. In the 25th minute the lead doubled when Petrova turned in Elena Morozova's cross at the far post and then Mokshanova made it three from close range.
Aigner gave Austria hope after making the most of a wonderful pass from Elisabeth Tieber, but Russia remained in total control; coming close after the break through Petrova and Mokshanova, who also was denied her hat-trick late on when she hit the post. Austria, whose fixtures are complete, will finish third in the group if Poland do not beat Russia next month but to reach October's play-offs they also need Slovakia to defeat Scotland narrowly in Group 5 on 28 September and Greece to overhaul Slovenia in Group 3.