Sweden beat Canada 1-0 in a hard-fought game to set up a Women’s World Cup quarter-final against Germany.
After a dull first half in Paris, Stina Blackstenius clipped the ball over keeper Stephanie Labbe to score with the game’s first shot on target.
Canada had the opportunity to equalise from a penalty, given for a handball, but Janine Beckie’s effort was brilliantly saved by Hedvig Lindahl.
Sweden rarely looked threatened as Canada struggled to create chance.
Peter Gerhardsson’s side face Germany – in a repeat of the 2003 final – in Rennes on Saturday at 17:30 BST.
There was almost controversy right at the end as referee Kate Jacewicz spoke with the video assistant referee (VAR) team after the final whistle had gone about a possible Sweden handball in the box, but the penalty was not awarded and Swedish celebrations could continue.
Sweden gamble pays off?
Sweden manager Gerhardsson named a weakened team in their final group game against the United States, with some people suggesting they wanted to be on the side of the draw that avoided hosts France.
It certainly helped them to be fresher than their opponents, although neither side really created a chance in the first half.
Their goal came from the match’s first shot on target – in the 55th minute. Elin Rubensson won the ball in her own half and played it to Kosovare Asllani on the left wing. Asllani played a wonderful ball to Blackstenius, who beat defender Shelina Zadorsky and Stephanie Labbe to the ball before lifting it over the keeper.
Canada had a brilliant chance to level when they were awarded a penalty. Desiree Scott’s shot hit the arm of Asllani, although referee Jacewicz did not initially give a spot-kick and only awarded it after twice viewing the incident on the pitch-side screen.
Beckie’s effort was decent but Lindahl, a free agent after leaving Chelsea this summer, dived down to her right to stop it.
“If they doubted I can make any penalty saves, that proved them wrong,” said Lindahl.
“I had to stretch fully and it worked. I was really happy, actually. It was pure joy. We got a lot more energy because of that.”
Sweden were given a penalty of their own late on after Ashley Lawrence fouled Fridolina Rolfo, but VAR found a player was marginally offside in the build-up so the decision was overturned.
“I am proud of the players,” said Sweden boss Gerhardsson.
“There’s a courage in trying to play your way out of situations. I did feel we made use of that positively – Kosovare’s pass, Stina’s decisiveness, Hedvig’s save. There were a lot of heroes towards the end of the match too.”
Sinclair’s chance gone?
Canada legend Christine Sinclair was hoping to become the all-time top international goalscorer in France.
The 36-year-old – who scored once at this World Cup against the Netherlands – has scored 182 international goals, two off the world record of USA great Abby Wambach.
She worked hard at the Parc des Princes, but only had one effort as her team failed to attack with any fluency. In fact, their only shot on target was the saved penalty.
How many chances will she have left to break that world record?
Her team could have had a penalty after the final whistle, although neither set of players seemed aware of the controversy. With practically the last kick of the game, Lawrence had a shot blocked by Sweden’s Linda Sembrant in the box.
The final whistle went and Sweden celebrated, while Canada looked despondent. But the VAR team were double checking whether Sembrant had handled the ball, with the referee having the option of restarting play – but Sembrant’s arm was by her side so the penalty was not given.
On the goal that Canada conceded, boss Kenneth Heiner-Moller said: “We got the one counter wrong. That’s all you need to get wrong in these matches.
“The story of the game was going in our favour. We were getting closer and closer. We had these final passes that were not really on point. I was thinking it would come.
“[I’m disappointed] with the result, but not the performance. I’m proud of this team.”
- There will be at least five European nations in the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1995.
- Sweden kept a clean sheet in a knockout match at the Women’s World Cup for the first time since their 4-0 victory over Germany in a third-place play-off in 1991 – ending a run of conceding in nine successive knockout games.
- Canada have lost 12 of their 14 meetings with European sides at the Women’s World Cup. They have lost all 11 outside their home World Cup.
- There have been 22 penalties in 42 games so far at the 2019 tournament – as many as in the 52 games in the 2015 edition.
- Only Germany (36), USA (33) and Norway (30) have had more different goalscorers at the Women’s World Cup than Sweden (29).
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