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Cholovyaga helps Russia end Belgium dreams

Russia 3-1 Belgium
Two goals by Anna Cholovyaga helped Russia earn their first win of the finals against a Belgium side who cannot now reach the knockout stage.

Russia players celebrate after their victory
Russia players celebrate after their victory ©Sportsfile

Two goals by Anna Cholovyaga helped Russia earn their first win of the 2011 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship finals against Belgium.

Although the sides were level at half-time after Justine Vanhaevermaet had cancelled out Cholovyaga's opening goal, Russia's more direct approach paid off thereafter as Cholovyaga doubled her tally and captain Tatiana Ananyeva killed off the contest, and Belgium's hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

Russia began forcefully, winning two early free-kicks, the first of which was fired over the bar by Daria Makarenko; the second, by Cholovyaga, warming the palms of Quirina D'Haeseleir. The Belgian No1 was not so assured when spilling Ksenia Veselukha's cross into Anastasia Pozdeeva's path but recovered in time to deny the midfielder.

Within two minutes, however, Aleksandr Shagov's charges were ahead, Snezhana Kobeleva cutting the ball back for Cholovyaga to fire in from 12 metres. Once behind, though, Belgium and particularly the impressive Tessa Wullaert sprung to life, the 18-year-old playmaker instigating a move that culminated in Anais Renais's diagonal strike which flew just wide. On 35 minutes, a clever nutmeg bought Wullaert time to force a fine save from Margerita Shirokova.

Wullaert's best contribution of the half came a minute later, when she fashioned a deep left-footed cross from the right flank which Vanhaevermaet powered back across goal with a towering header to equalise. Belgium's No10 hit the bar from 25 metres after the break but there was little she could do about the long ball over the top by Veselukha, which Cholovyaga stroked in after rounding D'Haeseleir.

Two minutes later another defensive lapse enabled Russia to double their advantage, D'Haeseleir fumbling Cholovyaga's shot into the path of Ananyeva, who finished from close range. The victory puts Russia on three points, three behind section leaders Italy and level with Switzerland, while Belgium are fourth following this second successive defeat.