Magdalena Eriksson's Sweden have reached the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup after winning 1-0 against Canada; Chelsea’s former no.1 saved a terrific penalty to keep their lead.
It was a closely-fought affair tonight in the French capital of Paris between Sweden, ninth in FIFA’s rankings and Canada who are fifth. Sweden who have reached the knockout phase of the competition in seven of their past eight finals got the victory and sealed a place in the last-eight for the first time in eight years.
Both sides finished second in their group with two wins and one loss. Sweden left it late to beat Chile 2-0, yet thrashed Thailand 5-1 and then were defeated by the USA 2-0, whereas Canada won 1-0 against Cameroon, 2-0 against New Zealand and lost 2-1 to the Dutch, current European champions.
Peter Gerhardsson made five changes to his Swedish starting line-up. Magdalena Eriksson returned to the XI, swapped at left-back for fellow Blue Jonna Andersson whom last week got her first World Cup start against current world champions the USA. Hedvig Lindahl who departed from Chelsea prior to the tournament played in goal.
Canada had more possession and created more opportunities in the first half although nothing particularly troubled Lindahl in goal. Sweden defended well and attacked quickly on the counter with former Chelsea striker Sofia Jakobsson being the most trouble for Canada down the right wing.
Sweden opened the scoring 10 minutes into the second half. Linkopings’ Kosovare Asllani rapidly carried the ball through the midfield and split the North American defence when she threaded a pass into Stina Blackstenius, who poked her effort beyond Stephanie Labbe.
The Swedes lead was under threat when the referee awarded a penalty to Canada after a VAR review over a handball incident involving Asllani. Janine Beckie, who plays her domestic football in the WSL with Manchester City, stepped up to take the spot-kick and was denied when Lindahl made a brilliant diving save to push the penalty round the post. The Chelsea legend has become the first Swedish goalkeeper to save a penalty in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Momentum was with the Scandinavians, and it appeared their early second-half goal and Lindahl’s super penalty stop gave them the confidence to push forward. Eriksson nearly doubled the lead when she met an aerial ball in the box, but her headed effort deflected off of Labbe who rushed forward in an attempt to claim the ball.
With just over 10 minutes left on the clock the referee blew her whistle for another penalty, but this time it was for the Swedes when Bayern Munich’s Fridolina Roflo was brought down from behind by Ashley Lawrence. VAR checked the foul, and the penalty was cancelled out as Sweden were fractionally offside in the build-up play.
Seven minutes of second-half stoppage time were added, and Canada applied constant pressure to the Swedish defence when they had two shots on target in quick succession. However, Sweden remained focused and disciplined to see out the game.
Sweden will meet Germany in the last-eight in Rennes on Saturday which kicks off at 5.30 UK time. England and Norway are also in the quarter-finals and face each other on 27 June in Le Havre, with an 8pm kick-off. This means that nine Chelsea representatives, including new signing Guro Reiten, remain in the tournament.
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