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Group A match
Russia came into this match on the back of a disappointing 3-3 draw with Australia, despite being three goals to the good in the first half. They made up for that with a healthy win over a young Basque side on Day Two, with an MVP performance from Svetlana Nikolskaia.
Russia took the lead early on with a tap in from Nikolskaia. Working it neatly from a corner on the left, the chance to shoot presented itself to Elena Lukashina and although Irantzu Iparragirre saved the initial attempt, Nikolskaia snuck in to stab the ball home at the front post.
A few mere seconds later Basque had given up possession and Russia were on the attack. Again it was Nikolskaia causing the problems as she shifted the ball onto her left foot and shaped to shoot for a goal that would’ve been similar to her opener against Australia in the previous match. This time however she was aided by the luck of a deflection off a Basque defender but nonetheless the Russians had doubled their lead in the space of a minute and left the Basques with a mountain to climb.
The Basques had a chance to pull one back when a long throw from the keeper caught out the Russian defence. Arantxa Ortiz raced in behind and crossed for Laida Ormazabal with a left foot volley, but it was just too far in front of her teammate to connect.
Russia made the Basques pay in the form of two goals in two minutes, one from a rebound and then Nikolskaia slotted home her brace from the edge of the box.
Russia did not let up in their pursuit of more goals and if it was not for the fine form of Iparraguirre then the Russians would have been out of sight. However, her spirit was broken in the 12th minute by Nikolskaia with a wonderful strike from an extremely tight angle. After intricate build-up play, the powerful Nikolskaia made room for herself at the left corner of the box and whipped a shot to the far post and punched the air in joy as it nestled in the side netting for her hat-trick.
Ormazabal was the architect of a double chance for the Basques on the stroke of the half time whistle. First, she burst down the right wing and fired a shot straight at Irina Koturanova. Ormazabal then found herself driving at the Russians again on the right and with a drop of the shoulder she found a yard to squeeze a shot in but once more Koturanova was equal to it, and then the Russians made it 6-0 before the whistle.
Half Time: Basque Country 0-6 Russia
Russia leapt into attack mode straight after the restart. They forced two saves from Basque substitute goalkeeper Amaia Oyarbide, first Viktoriia Bondareva had a try and then Aleksandra Shuliak went close but was denied by the young keeper. There was nothing Oyarbide could do about the Russian’s first goal in the second period though, as Nikolskaia’s shot deflected off Irati Iparragirre and into the net.
But the young Basques were not disheartened by the goal and continued to defend superbly, their resolution defying their tender age. Even Nikolskaia struggled to find a way past Oyarbide. One shot in the ninth minute of the second period saw the Russian general with time and space to take aim and fire from the edge of the penalty area. She cracked the ball with her right foot but the keeper tipped it away from goal terrifically. A minute later she palmed away a blast at the near post following a corner.
With just under eight minutes to go, the soon-to-be MVP of the match, Nikolskaia, was rewarded for her persistence. A low cross from the left by Shuliak fell perfectly to her teammate as she sneaked in at the back post. With a gaping goal to aim at she coolly and calmly side-footed the ball into the net to finally achieve her hat-trick.
With the clock ticking down the Basques tired and a brilliant individual goal from Kamo Manukian put the Russians on cloud nine. Cutting inside from the right and onto her left foot, she dribbled her way past three Basque defenders before swinging her leg at the ball and connecting with a shot that evaded the outstretched leg of Oyarbide. Nikolskaia then added her fourth with 45 seconds remaining to take the Russians into double-digits and put them on top of the group above Australia, thanks to their superior goal difference.
The Basques are out of contention for a semi final place but considering their youth they will have learned plenty from this experience and gave the maximum amount of effort, summed up by a goal-line clearance from Olaia Agilar in the last 25 seconds. But the experience of this Russian squad could prove invaluable as the tournament moves into the later stages.
Full Time: Basque Country 0-10 Russia
Basque Country: 1- Irantzu Iparragirre (GK), 2- Idoia Gorrotxategi, 3- Amaia Lopez, 4- Eli Oyarbide, 6- Arantxa Ortiz, 7- Olaia Agilar, 8- Irati Iparragirre,10- Olatz Lago, 11- Laida Ormazabal,12- Amaia Oyarbide (GK)
MVP: Amaia Oyarbide was remarkable in between the sticks in the second period despite letting in a few goals. She made a series of fantastic quick-reaction saves and was not afraid to put her body where it hurts. Irantzue Iparragiire, the Basque goalkeeper in the first half, also made some tremendous saves but it was Oyarbide who had to deal with more of the Russians' firepower.
Russia: 1- Irina Koturanova, 2- Svetlana Triapichnikova, 3- Svetlana Nikolskaia, 4- Viktoriia Ivanova, 5- Viktoriia Bondareva, 6- Elena Lukashina, 7- Iana Zimirova, 8- Elizaveta Kaleneva, 9- Daria Golovnina, 10- Aleksandra Shuliak, 11- Kamo Manukian, 15- Victoria Polkhovskaya
MVP: Svetlana Nikolskaia. She was the driving force in her team for the second game running but this time her efforts were rewarded with three points. Her second goal in particular was an excellent strike.