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Sweden eased to victory in the third place playoff against a tired and consequently below-par Russia side. Daniella Chamoun returned from suspension to team up with Nazanin Vaseghpanah to put the Russians to the sword and send their team home with a bronze medal finish.
The Swedish captain opened the scoring when she scooped the ball over Elena Lukashina with just over a minute on the clock. The early goal not only settled Sweden but seemed to consign the Russians to defeat. They toiled in keeping up with the fast-flowing Swedes and failed to register much in attack, but for a snapshot from outside the box by Irina Koturanova.
The absence of Chamoun’s skill in the semi final was displayed in full by the Swedish number 12 in the ninth minute. Finding space inside the box she teased and toyed with Lukashina before lightly flicking the ball over the scrambling goalkeeper.
The Swedish front three of Chamoun, Vaseghpanah and Kiryo combined superbly to almost produce their team’s third goal. Chamoun laid the ball wide to the advancing Kiryo on the right who drilled the ball across the face of goal but Vaseghpanah arrived a fraction of a second too early and couldn’t turn her body enough to steer the ball into an open net. But, after a brief lull, Chamoun did add the third, and with five minutes left in the first period the game looked well beyond Russia.
For all the Russians were struggling and looked exhausted, some heroic defending from Svetlana Triapichnikova and Elizaveta Valeneva spared their blushes, blocking shots from Elin Skold and Vaseghpanah on the line with 20 seconds left in the half.
Half Time: Russia 0-3 Sweden
Svetlana Nikolskaia passed up a golden chance to bring one back for Russia and add to her own goal tally but as the ball rolled to her a yard out from goal, only to send her side-foot shot in the direction of the near post.
Sweden took their foot off the gas and it allowed the Russians to pile on some pressure. It was a reverse of the roles from the first half, with the Swedes being the team hemmed inside their own half of the court.
The Russian onslaught continued for ten minutes before Vasghpanah, Chamoun and Pernilla Jansson set about rectifying the situation. Vaseghpanah and Chamoun consistently found any gaps in the Russian team left open, while the powerful presence of Jansson provided the main goal threat. Lukashina had to be alert to save a stinger from the Swedish number 7 that looked destined for the top corner but she couldn’t keep out her next attempt. Playing a one-two near on the left wing with Ida Hedstad, Jansson beat 3 to the ball and curled the ball past Lukashina, sliding as she did so.
Vaseghpanah had a chance to round off her scoring for the tournament in identical fashion to how she opened it. Pulling away from her marker at the edge of the penalty area from a corner kick, the captain let fly with her right foot but this time her shot wasn’t strong enough to find a way past the keeper.
With just over a minute to go Russia grabbed a consolation goal when Koturanova tucked home from close range after Isabella Gustavsson spilled a cross from the left.
But the damage had been done in the first half and Sweden simply played out the clock until the final whistle. Their fans – both travelling and local – erupted in joy on the sound of the horn and celebrated in brilliant fashion. Russia will be disappointed at the fact they barely managed to scare Sweden, and instead they’ll be having nightmares about Vaseghpanah and Chamoun.
Full Time: Russia 1-4 Sweden
Russia: 16- Elena Lukashina (GK), 3- Elizaveta Valeneva, 7- Aleksandra Shuliak, 8- Svetlana Nikolskaia, 9- Iana Zimirova, Irina Koturanova (C), 11- Svetlana Triapichnikova, 12- Viktoriia Ivanova, 13- Daria Golovnina, 14- Viktoriia Bondareva
MVP: Irina Koturanova. It was difficult to choose and MVP for Russia because the team did not play at their best. But Koturanova grabbed their only goal and showed her determination and commitment to the cause in doing so.
Sweden: 1- Isabella Gustavsson (GK), 4- Amanda Alfredsson, 5- Elin Skold, 6- Sandra De Brun Kenk, 7- Pernilla Jansson, 8- Sibel Izguden, 9- Ida Hedstad, 10- Nazanin Vaseghpanah (C), 11- Susan Kiryo, 12- Daniella Chamoun, 13- Diala Elia, 18- Jama Jammeh
MVP: Nazanin Vaseghpanah. Just like in the semi final she controlled the game for her side and today she was even more productive with the return of Chamoun. Her range of passing and organisational skills were on show and she gave maximum effort all over the court.