Sweden is in no mood to stop. After knocking out the United States, the Sweden Women’s Football team defeated Japan to book a seat in the semifinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
On Friday, August 11, the Swedes, eliminated previously unbeaten Japan 2-1 in the quarterfinal. With Japan out of the competition, this year’s World Cup will crown a first-time winner. It is important to note that Sweden is the 2003 World Cup runners-up and three-time third-place finishers. Meanwhile, Japan is the Japan 2011 winner. Further, previous winners Germany, Norway and the United States are already out of the tournament.
Friday’s match featured five Golden Boot favourites — Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa, Riko Ueki and Mina Tanaka, along with Sweden’s Amanda Ilestedt and Fridolina Rolfö. Meanwhile, Japanese goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita and Swedish goalie Zećira Mušović are on the short list for this year’s Golden Glove award.
Japan’s run in the World Cup ended with 14 goals, more than any team left in the tournament. Hinata Miyazawa finished with five of those goals to lead the Golden Boot race, matching the team record set by Homare Sawa in Japan’s 2011 title run.
In Friday’s match, Amanda Ilestedt scored a first-half goal and Filippa Angeldal converted a second-half penalty to give Sweden the mild upset and send the Swedes to the semifinals for the fifth time.
For Japan, Riko Ueki attempted to convert a penalty attempt in the 76th minute but it hit the crossbar and bounced clear of the goal. But, but in the 86th minute, substitute Honoka Hayashi cut Sweden’s lead to 2-1.
Sweden will next play Spain in the semifinals on Tuesday at Eden Park in Auckland. Spain beat the Netherlands 2-1 in extra time. Japan had beaten Spain 4-0 in group play.
Earlier, at the Tokyo Olympics, Sweden eliminated Japan at home in the quarterfinals. It advanced to the gold medal game but lost to Canada.