Sweden scored a famous 2-1 victory over USA to top Group C and set up a quarter-final meeting with Australia, and at the same time condemn their opponents to second place and an epic match-up with Brazil.
It was Sweden’s maiden victory against USA in four FIFA Women’s World Cup™ meetings, while the Stars and Stripes suffered their first ever defeat in the group stage across 18 matches.
The match started with a high tempo and the standard rarely dropped throughout the 90 minutes.
USA midfielder Carli Lloyd hit a long range dipping effort in the opening minutes which went just wide. From the restart an inadvertent USA flick-on saw Lotta Schelin one-on-one with Hope Solo, but the American goalkeeper made the save.
Sweden were not to be denied and they got the opener after Schelin was bundled over by Amy LePeilbet in the penalty area. Lisa Dahlkvist expertly hit the penalty home although Solo made an impressive attempt diving to her right.
USA enjoyed no luck just past the half hour when Amy Rodriguez’s lobbed effort hit the crossbar, after Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl had raced out to try and smother the shot.
Within a matter of minutes USA suffered another slice of misfortune as Swedish skipper Nilla Fischer scored, with her 25 metre free-kick taking a massive deflection to leave Solo stranded.
The last chance of the half saw Abby Wambach win a header in a crowded penalty area and Lloyd stab a shot from eight metres with Lindahl parrying the ball. USA went into the half-time interval with more shots at goal and enjoying 54 per cent possession.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with USA visibly playing with hunger.
On the hour mark Lloyd’s long range free-kick was fumbled by Lindahl but she recovered as the ball bounced down near the line.
USA got the goal they desperately needed midway through the half with Wambach climbing highest off a corner to pull a goal back, although the ball deflected home off her shoulder. The prolific American striker reaching ten FIFA Women’s World Cup goals, becoming the eighth player to do so.
USA were largely dominant after the goal leaving Sweden facing a long final 20 minutes. The Americans created numerous half chances, with perhaps the best opening on 86 minutes but substitute Kelley O’Hara was unable to direct a volley home from 15 yards, following a square ball from Lauren Cheney.
Player of the match: Lotta Schelin (Sweden)