Sweden will face Spain in the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup after beating Japan 2-1 in a thrilling encounter on Friday.
Defender Amanda Ilestedt continued her remarkable goalscoring run to break the deadlock in the first half with her fourth goal of the tournament, before Filippa Angeldal’s second-half penalty doubled Sweden’s lead.
Riko Ueki missed a penalty late on for Japan, but Honoka Hayashi’s goal with three minutes of regulation time remaining ensured a heart-pounding finish.
Despite sustained pressure throughout 10 minutes of stoppage time, Japan was unable to find a second goal as Sweden held on to reach a fifth Women’s World Cup semifinal.
It was certainly an underwhelming end to the tournament for a Japan team that had thrilled at this World Cup and one that many had down as the favorite to win this tie.
The disappointment of defeat was etched onto the faces of the Japan squad, many of them reduced to tears at the full-time whistle. Winners in 2011, the team’s performances in Australia and New Zealand had given fans hope of claiming a second World Cup title.
However, an experienced Sweden team proved to be a step too far and Japan’s elimination means there is now guaranteed to be a first-time winner of the competition, another indicator of the recent growth of the women’s game.
More to follow…