February 28, 2024

Sweden denies co-host Australia historic podium finish in FIFA Women’s World Cup

Sweden denies co-host Australia historic podium finish in FIFA Women’s World Cup
Reuters / Amanda Perobelli

(Reuters) – Sweden won its fourth FIFA Women's World Cup bronze medal on Saturday after beating co-hosts Australia, 2-0, in the third-place playoff match at Lang Park in Brisbane.

The Swedes, ranked third in the world, were awarded a penalty in the 28th minute after a VAR review showed Australia's Clare Hunt clipped Stina Blackstenius' heels. Fridolina Rolfo slotted home the resulting spot kick.

Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani doubled the Swedes’ lead just after the hour mark, rifling a sweet strike from the edge of the penalty area beyond goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold following another quick counterattack.

While disappointed to end the FIFA Women’s World Cup with another defeat, the Matildas still achieved their best result at the tournament, having never previously gone beyond the quarterfinal stage.

Sweden nearly had a dream start when Blackstenius fired a low drive across goal in the opening minute, but the attempt was palmed away by Arnold and cleared by defender Ellie Carpenter.

The Matildas soon found their passing rhythm, tearing forward on the counter through Hayley Raso but the winger's effort was blocked. Raso was denied again midway through the half with goalkeeper Sweden Zecira Musovic making a fine save.

Rolfo headed against the bar from Asllani's wonderful cross shortly before Sweden was given a penalty—a decision loudly jeered by the capacity crowd of 49,461.

With the pace of the game picking up, Arnold made a magnificent low save to keep out Rolfo's free kick in the closing minutes of the half.

Moments after Australia coach Tony Gustavsson made his first substitutions, the Matildas fell further behind, with Asllani finishing off an incisive break before being mobbed by her delighted teammates.

Australia pushed forward in numbers but looked out of energy and ideas. The Matildas’ efforts to claw their way back into the game were hampered when star striker Sam Kerr picked up a knock later in the match, allowing Sweden to close the game comfortably.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup will end on Sunday when Spain takes on England for the championship. 

(MDB)