September 29, 2021

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Next Level Game Over

Tokyo Olympics 2021, Australia Matildas vs Sweden women’s football, news, scores, results, Sam Kerr, USWNT, penalty, goal,


There were goals and drama in equal measure as the Matildas were bested 4-2 by reigning silver medallists Sweden in a rollercoaster clash in Tokyo’s Saitama Stadium.

Matildas captain Sam Kerr scored twice with her head after Australia conceded early, but was denied what appeared to be an obvious penalty shout before halftime.

When Australia was awarded a penalty later in the game – then 3-2 down after a Swedish surge – Kerr’s tame attempt was saved.

And Sweden, just days after stunning world No.1 and reigning two-time World Cup winners USA, made the missed opportunity pay with a fourth goal to seal the game.

The result leaves the Matildas needing a positive result against the USA in their final group game – and sorely needing to stabilise a shaky defence.

Fans fume at missed Matildas call that was ‘as obvious as it gets’

A slick and physical Swedish side dominated much of the opening half, and broke the deadlock after stealing the ball deep in Australia’s half and counter-attacking with ruthless precision.

Then Matildas captain Sam Kerr levelled the ledger with a bullet header in the 36th minute against the run of play.

Five minutes later, Kerr was brought down in the box under clear contact from Hanna Glas when through on goal. But the referee waved away her protests for a penalty, and VAR (Video Assistant Referee) didn’t intervene in a highly controversial moment.

Kerr said after the match: “I felt a touch. That’s football. You win some, you don’t get some. We move on, it was over in a second. It is what it is.”

But it took less than three minutes in the second half for Kerr to break the deadlock.

Caitlin Foord raced into the box and from a narrow angle chipped a ball with her weaker left foot to Kerr’s head, who made no mistake from close range for her third goal of the tournament – and all coming through headers.

Four minutes later Sweden equalised through Lina Hurtig, who was teed up for an easy finish inside the box as Australia’s defence was unpicked once again. Sweden regained the lead in the 63rd minute through a sizzling drive from Rolfo, also the scorer of Sweden’s first goal.

But a see-sawing encounter took another twist when Caitlin Foord was awarded a penalty by VAR, only or Sam Kerr’s 70th-minute shot to be saved.

The scoreline was sealed when Sweden’s substitute striker Stina Blackstenius got on the end of a wonderful cross from Kosovare Asllani and flicked a glancing header past Australian keeper Teagan Micah, her third goal in two matches.

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson – facing his home country in Sweden – was optimistic despite the result.

“I am extremely proud of the players’ performance tonight. I said if we are going to lose, we are going to lose our way,” Gustavsson said.

“I am not trying to sit here and be more positive than I should be because I am disappointed we didn’t take a point, but I am proud of our performance.”

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Matildas made just one change to their starting side from their 2-1 victory over New Zealand which began the tournament, with Teagan Micah replacing Lydia Williams in goal. But there was little she could do to deny any of the four goals, as the Matildas defence was repeatedly stretched and found wanting by a slick Swedish attack.

The teams began in fairly evenly-poised fashion, before Australian forward Kyah Simon went down in the box under pressure from Hanna Glas after a quarter of an hour. But her shouts for a penalty were waved away.

Sweden’s defensive intensity increasingly began to tell, and in the 20th minute Kosovare Asllani nabbed possession in Australia’s defensive third.

Steph Catley was caught out of position as Asllani played Sofia Jakobsson into space on the right side of the box. Jakobsson teed up an unmarked Fridolina Rolfö with her cutback pass, and Rolfö made no mistake to bury the ball in the bottom corner.

Rolfo nearly added an assist 14 minutes later when she burst down the left wing and crossed early, but her pass was just centimetres too far in front of a lunging Lina Hurtig.

Against the run of play two minutes later, Kyah Simon drifted to the left hand side of the pitch and floated a deep cross to the back post. Sam Kerr – as she so often is – found herself in the perfect position and headed the ball beyond the keeper.

Kerr was convinced she had won a penalty five minutes later when she burst through on goal and fell to ground after her ankle was clipped. But in a stunning moment of controversy, the referee denied a penalty – and VAR didn’t overturn the initial decision.

But it took less than three minutes in the second half for Kerr to break the deadlock – once again with her head.

Caitlin Foord raced into the box behind the Swedish lines and from a narrow angle chipped a ball with her weaker left foot right to Kerr, who made no mistake for her third goal of the tournament.

But the lead didn’t last long. Sofia Jakobsson’s supreme pace and attacking instints were on full display as she charged behind the lines in the 52nd minute, before squaring the ball for Lina Hurtig to score a simple finish and level the scores again.

Swedish captain Seger launched a long-range attempt five minutes later that had Micah beaten in goals, but fortunately only cannonned against the crossbar.

Rolfo scored her second of the game to regain the lead for Sweden. She received the ball in space near the edge of the box, turned and unleashed a scintillating drive that Micah’s fingertips could not stop from slamming into the back of the net.

Aivi Luik was replaced by Alanna Kennedy immediately afterwards in a defensive reshuffle.

And Tameka Yallop, having struggled for involvement compared to a strong performance in the opening game – in which she scored the opener – was also taken off for young gun Kyra Cooney-Cross.

The changes soon paid off. Australia won a corner which rebounded out to Foord, whose foot was stood on as she rounded a defender. The referee ruled no penalty, but was convinced by the video assistant referee to change her mind.

Kerr took the 70th-minute penalty, but her underwhelming attempt down the middle of the goal was saved by Hedvig Lindahl.

The 4-2 scoreline was sealed when Sweden’s substitute striker Stina Blackstenius got on the end of a wonderful cross from Kosovare Asllani and flicked a glancing header past Australian keeper Teagan Micah, her third goal in two matches.

Kerr was through on goal for another one-on-one attempt with five minutes to spare after a pass from Mary Fowler, but sent her strike straight into Lindahl.

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