Swedes start strong
Sweden were keen to play on the front foot from the off but their first few attacks were well cut out by a Russia team that is built on a strong defensive core. Yet it only took five minutes for the Yellow and Blues to have their first real chance, Lotta Schelin too much for her marker to deal with as she ate up ground on the left, a scuffle in the box followed with the attacker feeling she should have had a penalty.
The spot-kick a moot point as Kosovare Asllani hammered the ball home seconds later, Caroline Seger refusing to let go of the ball as she danced into the box from the left. The Lyon woman’s low ball into a crowd on the line deflected two yards out to Asllani to fire over the line.
Another ball in from the left was the undoing of Russia once more, the team having lost their defensive resilience after their 6-1 loss to Denmark. The ball nipped into the danger zone for Nilla Fischer to make the connection and send her shot low past Tatiana Shcerbak.
It was unrelenting from Sweden who pilled bodies into the attacking half, yellow swarming and red haphazard, their lines only ever half-cleared. The match quickly becoming a free for all when Sweden had the ball, and Sweden almost always had the ball. The Swedes attacked in waves, constantly pushing against the Russian back-line, always alert to get in behind, happily stretching the play with lively full-backs.
A constant threat in the game – and all of the year – Schelin was having fun up against the Russian defence that didn’t know how to stop her, her hard work paying off after the half-hour as she set the ball up for Asllani to volley into the unguarded net.
Despite the lion’s share of possession and chances, Sweden weren’t hitting all the high notes, the pitch crowed with yellow shirts getting in each other’s way, an infrequently rotated team showing signs of mental fatigue. Russia for their part were doing all they could to keep the advancing yellow shirts back, blocks and tackles hard-wired into their playing style.
Sweden continue to control the game
The second-half followed the pattern of the first, Sweden keen to attack but clear chances still at a premium, the defence doing enough as the creative spark refused to burn for Blågult. As with other games at this tournament, the frequent substitutions only served to break the game up, the tournament winding down and the match already won.
One of the fresher pairs of legs on the pitch, in the match and tournament, Fridolina Rolfö had been working hard since her substitution at half-time and gladly took her chance when it came. Quick on her toes to dance around outside the box the attacker smashed on the half-volley, the ball off of the inside of the post, the crowd already to sigh in disappointment before it launched itself across goal and settled inside of the net. A rare moment of quality in a stilted second-half.
The rest of the game passed much without incident, a few more chances and half chances opened up for Sweden though the Scandinavians couldn’t take them, the match long since having wound down.
All in all, an easy win for the Swedes although their performances in the tournament have still posed questions, as Russia have much to work on before the Euros get underway in July.