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Rediff.com  » Sports » Women's World Cup: Sweden, Netherlands storm into quarters

Women's World Cup: Sweden, Netherlands storm into quarters

Last updated on: August 06, 2023 18:21 IST
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IMAGE: Sweden players celebrate the winning goal against the United States in the penalty kick shootout. Photograph: Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Sweden beat the United States 5-4 on penalties to knock the defending champions out of the Women's World Cup after the teams were locked at 0-0 at the end of extra time on Sunday.

In a madcap shootout, Lina Hurtig struck the winning spot-kick, though U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher parried the ball on the line and the result needed to be confirmed by VAR.

 

IMAGE: Sweden's Lina Hurtig in action with Alyssa Naeher of the U.S. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

Sophia Smith had had the chance to win the match for the four-times champion Americans but blasted the ball over the bar.

Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic emerged as the hero, having kept the Scandinavians in the match, making 11 saves before the shootout to deny the Americans.

IMAGE: United States goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher reacts after losing to Sweden in the penalty kick shootout. Photograph: Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Often starved of possession, the Swedes did not have a shot on goal until the 85th minute when substitute Sofia Jakobsson danced into the area, only to shoot straight at keeper Alyssa Naeher.

The talismanic Megan Rapinoe came off the bench to replace forward Alex Morgan in the ninth minute of extra time but was unable to create a winner for the Americans.

Renowned for having a dead-eye as a penalty shooter, Rapinoe struck the fourth kick for the U.S. over the bar after Sweden's Nathalie Bjorn had also blasted over.

Naeher saved Rebecka Blomqvist's fourth shot for the Swedes but Smith's failed effort kept the Scandinavians in it.

IMAGE: Sweden forward Lina Hurtig shoots and scores the winning goal in the penalty kick shootout. Photograph: Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

After Naeher and Magdalena Eriksson converted their spot-kicks, Kelley Ohara sent her shot pinging off the right post, allowing Hurtig to step up and send the champions out of the tournament.

Winners of the last two World Cups in France and Canada, the U.S. slumped to their quickest exit, having made the semi-finals or better in all eight previous editions.

IMAGE: The Netherlands players celebrate after winning their FIFA Women's World Cup Round of 16 match against South Africa at Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday. Photograph: Jaimi JoyReuters

Earlier in the day, Jill Roord scored her fourth goal of the tournament as the Netherlands marched into the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup with a 2-0 win over South Africa at Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.

Roord's header gave her side an early lead and Lineth Beerensteyn added the second goal courtesy of a goalkeeping error in the second half to secure the Dutch a date with Spain in Wellington on Friday.

The 54th-ranked African champions never gave up the fight in their first appearance in the World Cup knockout stage and were always a threat on the break through their lone striker Thembi Kgatlana.

Dutch goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar was equal to everything Banyana Banyana fired at her, however, and the 2019 finalists progressed to the last eight for the second successive tournament.

"I'm very happy with a good win against a tough opponent," said Netherlands coach Andries Jonker. "But the part of me that wants great football is disgruntled with the first half, where we gave the ball away too much."

IMAGE: Lineth Beerensteyn scores the second goal for the Netherlands past South Africa goalkeeper Kaylin Swart. Photograph: Jaimi JoyReuters

The noon kickoff - primetime in the United States - was tailor-made for the reigning champion Americans, but they were packed off to Melbourne to face Sweden later on Sunday after the Netherlands hammered Vietnam 7-0 to win Group E.

The Dutch started well, taking the lead from a corner in the ninth minute, when Danielle van de Donk headed the ball towards goal and defender Lebohang Ramalepe got in goalkeeper Kaylin Swart's way to present Roord with a simple finish.

Banyana Banyana responded immediately, striker Thembi Kgatlana's fine first touch on a through ball, giving her space to unleash a shot that forced a save out of Van Domselaar.

Kgatlana was a constant warning to the Dutch against complacency.

She got three shots away in the 10 minutes before halftime that tested Van Domselaar, who also had to be at her best to stop a Kholosa Biyana piledriver in stoppage time.

Ten minutes into the second half, winger Lieke Martens had a goal disallowed for offside, but the Dutch did double the lead in the 68th minute.

IMAGE: Jill Roord gave the Netherlands the lead in the fourth minute. Photograph: Jaimi JoyReuters

Beerensteyn was played through and shot across Swart, who appeared to have the everything under control but fumbled her catch and watched the ball squirt into the net.

South Africa again responded to conceding a goal but Van Domselaar was again equal to it, getting down low to turn Linda Motlhalo's low drive around the post five minutes later.

Banyana Banyana had one last chance to get on the scoreboard in stoppage time, almost inevitably through Kgatlana, but there was no way past Van Domselaar.

"Yesterday we spoke about needing to score more goals and we had the opportunities, especially in the first half," said South Africa coach Desiree Ellis.

"I'm just proud, disappointed of course, but really proud of this group of players."

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