Against the odds, Sweden beat the U.S. in the Women’s World Cup 5-4. It was a tie at game’s end, so the match was settled on penalty kicks. Given that (as I recall) the U.S. was also favored in the penalty-kick department, this is a double disappointment for U.S. fans. I was even up early enough to watch the last 40 minutes and the penalty kicks.
The United States‘ Women’s World Cup title defence is over. Defeated by Sweden on penalties after a frustrating 0-0 draw across the preceding 120 minutes, in the end it took one of the most dramatic shootouts ever to do it.
After Sweden missed two of their four kicks, the U.S. were 3-2 up and striker Sophia Smith had a chance to win it, only to put her effort wide. Alyssa Naeher and Magdalena Eriksson then kept each side alive before U.S. defender Kelley O’Hara, brought off the bench late on to take a penalty, smacked an effort onto the post.
With a chance to win it for Sweden, Lina Hurtig stepped up and Naeher seemingly saved her effort. Only she didn’t. Batting the ball away from goal after the low shot, Naeher thought she had kept it out; the referees convened, and VAR determined that the effort had crossed the line by a matter of millimetres.
In the game, Sweden weren’t good at all and didn’t deserve to advance on the balance of play. The United States produced more. But in a repeat of the 2016 Rio Olympics quarterfinal, they were able to grind out a result and hold their nerve when it mattered most.
Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic kept her side in it during normal time as she produced one of the finest goalkeeping performances the World Cup has ever seen, denying wave upon wave of USWNT efforts on goal (22 shots in total, 11 on target.)
The moment the game went to penalties, it felt almost inevitable that Sweden would be the ones to advance. How could they not? Musovic had been irrepressible the entire game, producing saves that felt like they were denying all rhyme and reason. Sweden might not have deserved this, but she did.
And, for the first time since 2011, the USWNT lost a game at a World Cup. A tournament defined by surprises, underdogs, and new nations announcing themselves will now crown a new world champion.
And here is the Fox News summary (Sweden is in yellow jerseys). You can see the excellent performance of the Swedish goalkeeper, who really saved the game for Sweden (see the saves at 88:44, 95:16, and 100:53, and all the saves of the penalty kicks).
Here’s who’s left. Colombia still has a chance!