Wednesday, May 8, 2024
USA, Sweden's showdown at 2023 Women's World Cup.

USA, Sweden’s showdown at 2023 Women’s World Cup.

LINA HURTIG’S PENALTY SENDS SWEEDEN PAST UNITED STATES IN WORLD CUP

MELBOURNE, VIC — Lina Hurtig’s converted her penalty and Sweden knocked the United States out of the World Cup 5-4 on penalties after a scoreless draw at the Women’s World Cup.

U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher fruitlessly argued she had saved Hurtig’s attempt, but it was ruled over the line. The stadium played Abba’s “Dancing Queen in the stadium as the Swedes celebrated.

DISAPPOINTMENT FOR THE UNITED STATES

The United States, which has a record four World Cup titles overall and was trying to win an unprecedented third consecutive tile, was eliminated in the Round of 16 for the first time in team history.

The Americans’ worst finish had been third place, three times.

“I am proud of the women on the field,” said U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski. “I know we were criticized for the way we played, and for different moments in the group stage. I think we came out today and showed the grit, the resilience, the fight. The bravery showed we did everything we could to win the game. And, unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes.”

INTENSE MATCH AND EXTRA TIME

It was the first match at this World Cup to go to extra time.

Two-time World Cup participant Julie Ertz was in tears after the match.

“We didn’t put anything in the back of the net,” she sobbed. “The penalties was tough as well. It’s just emotional because it’s probably my last game ever. It’s just tough. It’s an emotional time. It obviously sucks. Penalties are the worst.”

It was the was the fourth time a U.S. match at the World Cup went to extra time. All of the three previous matches went to penalties, including the 2011 final won by Japan. The U.S. won on penalties in a 2011 quarterfinal match against Brazil, and in the 1999 final at the final at the Rose Bowl against China.

Sweden knocked the United States out of the 2016 Olympics in the quarterfinals on penalties.

SWEDEN PROGRESSES TO QUARTERFINALS

Sweden goes on to the quarterfinals to play Japan, the 2011 World Cup winner, which defeated Norway 3-1 on Saturday night.

Sweden has never won a major international tournament, either the World Cup or the Olympics. The closest the team has come is World Cup runner-up in 2003. They finished in third in the 1999, 2011 and 2019 editions, and won silver medals in the last two Olympics.

DOMINATION BY THE UNITED STATES

The Americans struggled through group play with just four goals in three matches. They were nearly eliminated last Tuesday by first-timers Portugal, but eked out a 0-0 draw to fall to second in their group for just the second time at a World Cup.

The Americans looked far better against Sweden, dominating possession and outshooting the Swedes 5-1 in the first half alone. Lindsey Horan’s first-half header hit the crossbar and a second-half blast was saved by goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, who had six saves in regulation.

SWEDEN’S PREPARATION AND STRATEGY

Sweden won all three of their group games, including a 5-0 rout of Italy in its final group match. Coach Peter Gerhardsson made nine lineup changes for the match, resting his starters in anticipation of the United States.

It was tense from the opening whistle.

Naeher punched the ball away from a crowded goal on an early Sweden corner kick. Three of the Swedes’ goals against Italy came on set pieces.

KEY MOMENTS AND ABSENCES

Trinity Rodman’s shot from distance in the 18th minute was easily caught by Musovic, who stopped another chance by Rodman in the 27th.

Horan’s header off Andi Sullivan’s corner in the 34th hit the crossbar and skipped over the goal. Horan was on target in the 53rd minute but Musovic dove to push it wide. Horan crouched to the field in frustration while Musovic was swarmed by her teammates.

The United States was without Rose Lavelle, who picked up her second yellow card of the tournament in the group stage finale against Portugal and has to sit out against Sweden.

In Lavelle’s absence, Andonovski started Emily Sonnett, who was making her first start for the team since 2022. The addition of Sonnett allowed Horan to move up higher in the midfield.

Sweden pressed in the final 10 minutes of regulation. Sofia Jakobsson, who came in as a substitute in the 81st minute, nearly scored in the 85th but Naeher managed to catch it for her first save of the tournament.

Neither Caroline Seger of Megan Rapinoe started the match, but Rapinoe came in as a sub for Alex Morgan in the first overtime period.

END OF AN ERA FOR RAPINOE

Seger, whose 235 appearances for Sweden are the most for any woman in Europe, was on the bench to start the match. The 38-year-old has been struggling with a calf problem all year and trained alone in the two days of practice leading into the showdown with the U.S.

Rapinoe, also 38, previously announced that this would be her last World Cup. She has taken on a smaller role for the Americans in her final tournament. She was a substitute in the United States’ first and third games of group play and didn’t get off the bench in the middle match. She made her 200th appearance for the national team at the World Cup.

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