Sweden failed to turn their total dominance of the second half into a better scoreline than 1-0 in their second Group E match against Argentina in Tianjin on Saturday night. The Argentines, for their part, look a significantly improved side than in recent tournaments and will consider the slim loss something of a moral victory.
The first half offered little in the way of free-flowing, attack-minded football. The first chances of note came after an almighty scramble in the Argentina penalty area. With the South Americans unable to clear their lines, Frida Ostberg took two tries as the ball pinged around, before Lotta Schelin took a swing at it to no greater effect.
Nine minutes later Schelin continued to look like the potential difference-maker. Played in by deep lying strike partner and captain Victoria Svensson, the Gothenburg forward was denied at the last by Vanina Correa in the Argentina goal.
The keeper looked like she was going to be caught out on 33 minutes, when a long free kick found her drifting off her line. She recovered just in time to bat Ostberg's free kick out for a corner, before the best chance of the period fell to Svensson. Turning brilliantly inside the box, she was unable to steer her right-footed shot on goal.
The Swedes picked up the pace in the second period, looking to make their superior speed, fitness and strength count. Ostberg hammered just over the bar after a sneaky little run in minute 54. Second's later Therese Sjogran forced Correa into a fine save.
The Argentines were punch-drunk and the heat was taking its toll. Nilla Fischer provided the knockout blow on 57 minutes, nodding home from Sjogran's free kick (1-0) to break the deadlock and settle Swedish nerves.
Ten minutes later Svensson nearly doubled the lead, but her header from six yards hit off the base of Correa's post. The Argentine keeper had to be at her best in the 73rd minute, saving from a close-range Schelin strike after a nice bit of enterprising football from the Swedes.
Argentina threw everything they had at the Scandinavians in the dying moments, but Swedish net-minder Hedvig Lindahl was able to keep them at bay.
Up next, the Swedes tied temporarily with Canada and China on three points, will take on Canada at the Workers' Stadium in Beijing on 12 August while Argentina, who need a miracle to progress to the quarter-finals, will meet hosts China in Qinhuangdao.