Two late goals for a Sweden side featuring Magdalena Eriksson meant a deserved victory over plucky debutants Chile.
Chile put up a great fight but their luck came to an end when Kosovare Asllani opened the scoring in the 83rd minute from a close-range shot. Madelen Janogy doubled the lead in added time when she drilled the ball beyond Claudia Endler in goal to ensure Sweden come away with their first 2019 Women’s World Cup win.
Chelsea Women’s defender Magdalena Eriksson started her first World Cup in the left-back position, while our other Swedish defender Jonna Andersson remained on the bench. Hedvig Lindahl, who recently departed from the Blues, played in between the sticks in her fourth Women’s World Cup finals.
Sweden had much joy in the attacking third but had a tough time opening up the defence of the tournament debutants who defended fiercely. The South American Cup runners-up, who kept an impressive seven clean sheets in their World Cup qualifiers, played an excellent match defensively, and it most certainly helped having Paris Saint-Germain goal keeper Endler operating in between the sticks.
The Swedes’ manager, Peter Gerhardsson, set his side up in an attacking formation of 4-3-3 with Eriksson and Hanna Glas having a free rein to flood forward down the flanks to provide an extra outlet of attack. Eriksson appeared to enjoy the space she had to drive down the left wing, often whipping in dangerous crosses, but the Chilean no.1 and captain confidently gathered any incoming balls to keep Sweden’s attacking force at bay.
Lindahl, who was more like a spectator for the majority of the first half, had her concentration tested on the stroke of half-time when Maria Urrutia had her and Chile’s first sight on goal.
With twenty minutes left of play frustration began to show for the Scandinavians and with heavy rain pouring down in Le Harve, Eriksson found herself in referee Lucila Venegas’ notebook. The no.6 might have slid farther than expected on the wet pitch and caught Yessenia Lopez on the foot during the follow through.
However, moments later Sweden were very unlucky not to score and perhaps Chile had luck on their side when Caroline Segar’s shot was blocked. It fell kindly to Eriksson who unleashed an arrow of a shot from the edge of the 18-yard-box that flew inches over the crossbar making Chile’s captain dive at full-stretch in goal.
The match was called to a halt by the officials with 18 minutes left of play due to severe adverse weather conditions in the north of France. The break that was caused by the thunderstorm arguably came at a good time as it gave Magdalena’s side time to re-group upon the game’s resumption.
The Scandinavians continued with the high pressure for the closing stages and it finally paid off when the Chilean defence failed to clear their line. Sweden’s substitute, Janogy, prodded the ball forward into a scrambling box and Asllani cleaned up with a clinical first time shot into the roof of the net. The Swedish substitute who has been dubbed as Sweden’s secret attacking weapon showed us why when she went against all odds and took on four Chilean defenders by herself and beat them all. She then drilled the ball into the near corner to cap off a superb well-earnt individual goal.
Sweden’s next Group F game is in Nice on 16 June against Thailand where they will look to pick up three more points to ensure they reach the knockout stages. They face USA, the powerhouse of women’s football, whom they have been drawn into the same group with in every World Cup since 2003 back in Le Harve on 20 June for their final group match.