Sweden made it to the FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinals by defeating strong contenders Japan after knocking out the United States earlier.
The Swedes, World Cup runners-up in 2003 and have secured third place three times, eliminated Japan. The Asian side were undefeated in the tournament, and won 2-1 in the quarterfinals. With Japan now out of the tournament, this year’s World Cup is set to crown a first-time champion. Sweden will now face Spain in the semifinals.
Amanda Ilestedt scored a goal in the first half before Filippa Angeldal converted a penalty in the second half. The result sends Sweden to the semifinals for the fifth time.
Japan had scored 14 goals in the tournament before this, but they struggled to keep up with the Swedish challenge. When Sweden took a 2-0 lead late in the second half, it appeared Japan’s hopes of progressing were all but lost. However, they made a late comeback and put pressure on Sweden’s goalkeeper Zecira Musovic. Previously, Musovic made a record 11 saves in her team’s win against the United States.
In the 76th minute, Japan’s Riko Ueki’s penalty hit the crossbar, but substitute Honoka Hayashi scored in the 86th minute, reducing Sweden’s lead to 2-1.
But in the end, Sweden secured their semifinals berth. Japan’s exit ensures that a first-time winner will be crowned in this World Cup. Japan had won in 2011, and previous champions Germany, Norway, and the United States were all eliminated earlier in the tournament. Ilestedt’s goal for Sweden came in the 32nd minute from a free kick that landed in front of goal before reaching her feet. It was her fourth goal of the World Cup. Angeldal scored a penalty in the 51st minute following a handball by Fuka Nagano.
Despite Japan’s impressive run in the tournament, Sweden managed to secure the win and will continue their journey.