Poland coach Roman Jaszczak praised his side's positive attitude despite a 2-0 loss at home to Russia which is likely to be one of the key results on the road to UEFA Women's EURO 2013.
After a promising FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying performance, Poland were tipped to be challengers to top seeds Italy and Russia in Group 1 but were beaten at the home of RTP Unia Racibórz. Goals in either half from Elena Morozova and Ekaterina Sochneva moved Russia level with Italy on three points.
The home team made a bright start with Natalia Chudzik and Marta Stobba racing clear on the flanks but Agnieszka Winczo was well shackled and by the ten-minute mark Russia were in control. Their two most influential players combined when Olga Petrova raced down the left and crossed for Morozova to finish at the far post.
Katarzyna Kierdrzynek prevented a second Russia goal from Nadezhda Kharchenko late in the first period after a Morozova pass yet although Poland picked up their play after the break, Russia – under new coach Farid Benstiti – held firm. They confirmed victory with nine minutes left when Morozova's corner was half-cleared to Sochneva, who scored from inside the box.
"I'm very pleased with my side," said Jaszczak after his first qualifier in charge. "Of course the result is bad for us, but our play was good. I didn't see my team from April to August, so not much could have been done. What's more, the girls were deeply upset after Unia Racibórz's elimination from the UEFA Women's Champions League. They had five sessions with the sports psychologist.
"Russia have a better side than us. If I played open football against them, we would have lost by five or even seven goals. I'd like to thank my players for their ambitious attitude and congratulate Russia who deserved to win."
Morozova, whose charges return to action at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 October when Poland welcome Greece, said: "We came here to win and I am happy we did. It was good we scored early because that helped us calm down a bit and boosted our confidence. Petrova gave me a beautiful pass so I just had to keep my shot on target. Everyone is satisfied, we started to play our game in this match. I hope we continue to improve throughout the campaign. "