Goals from the evergreen Patrizia Panico on eight and 65 minutes gave Italy a 2-0 victory in Russia and total control of UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying Group 1.
With seven perfect wins and 25 unanswered goals, Italy are now nine points ahead of Russia and will qualify for the finals in Sweden two games early with victory against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 16 June, when coach Pietro Ghedin expects to "be able to celebrate". Russia's players admitted the early goal proved a blow from which they could not recover.
Pietro Ghedin, Italy coach
We have to wait a bit more to start celebrating. However, something really strange would have to happen now for us to miss out on qualification. Considering we have two games at home, only one away and are ahead on goal difference and head-to-head, I would say we are nearly there. I think we will be able to celebrate on 16 June and we deserve to because this group have matured in recent months and have improved in many aspects, technically and mentally.
Anastasia Kostyukova, Russia defender
Our coach told us about our opponents' tactics, about their habit of playing the ball behind the defence and warned us how to play. We had to score but we did not manage to do it. We are not satisfied with the result. We had to win and we wanted to win but the quick goal shocked us. We needed a lot of time to recover from it. Italy have always played a pressure game and are a team with character. We were lacking shots on goal and if had we managed to do this, Italy would have felt the danger. We have to win the rest of our games and hope that we will play at EURO 2013.
Elena Medved, Russia defender
I don't know what the coach said but I think it influenced the game. It was very difficult for me to come on in such a complicated game. The Italians are very quick. We couldn't get the ball forward enough and we were unable to support the attack.
Ekaterina Sochneva, Russia forward
We were probably too nervous before the game and did not understand each other on the pitch very well. We tried to change the course of the game but unfortunately we only managed to do that in the second half. Italy are very strong and we prepared seriously but it turned out that we had to recover from the beginning. We could not play as we wanted to and had no chances to score.