Sweden advance on penalties to shock USA
Sweden shocked four-time gold medallists USA by winning 4-3 on penalties to advance to the last four of the Women's Football Tournament Rio 2016 after their quarter-final match finished 1-1 after extra time.
After goals from Stina Blackstenius and Alex Morgan in the second half, neither side could find the breakthrough in extra time in Brasilia and the match went to a penalty shoot-out. Lisa Dahlkvist eventually was the hero for Sweden, scoring the winning goal and helping the Swedes through.
The last time USA and Sweden met at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament was in 1996 when the Stars and Stripes won 2-1 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Wearing the Sweden No7 shirt that day was Pia Sundhage. Twenty years on, Sundhage stood on the touchline in Brasilia as head coach of Blugalt, trying to mastermind a win for her nation over the four-time gold medallists, a country she lead to two gold medals. The first half was played at a quick pace with USA opting to play down their right wing with Kelley O'Hara and Tobin Heath for large spells. USA had the majority of possession in Sweden's half, but Sweden showed they could be a threat on the counter attack with Fridolina Rolfo and Lotta Schelin being effective with their hold-up play. USA were more threatening going forward, but Sweden frustrated the Stars and Stripes by playing compact in the back and being strong and well-timed in challenges. There was then a letdown for Sweden in the 15th minute when Rolfo left the pitch injured after an innocuous fall in midfield. Young talent Stina Blackstenius replaced Rolfo. USA picked up from where they left off and threatened Sweden's goal early in the 2nd half, but it was Sweden who took the lead after Lisa Dahlkvist played a superb one-time through pass to Blackstenius. The substitute forward held off Julie Johnston before shooting low and to the far post and past Solo for the opening goal.
Just when it felt like Sweden were on their way to pulling off one of the biggest shocks in Women's Olympic Football Tournament history, Alex Morgan scored the equalizer, pouncing on an opportunity after Tobin Heath's lofted ball over the top ricocheted off the head of Jessica Samuelsson. Morgan made no mistake and pulled USA level.
USA continued to pile on the pressure for the remaining minutes, but Sweden held on to take the first Rio 2016 quarter-final to extra time, where each side had their chances. Schelin won the ball from Heath in midfield before launching a counter attack. She played in Blackstenius but her pass came too late as the forward was ruled offside. USA substitute Christen Press then found Morgan with a decisive through pass inside the penalty area, but Sweden challenged and cleared the danger.
There also was an historic moment in the second half of extra time when USA became the first team to use a fourth substitute in a senior tournament when Lindsey Horan came on for Mallory Pugh. Sweden also used a fourth substitute when Emma Berglund came on for Samuelsson.
Morgan and Press both attempted shots late in extra time, but neither troubled Lindahl and the match went to penalties. In the penalty shoot-out, after a miss from Press for USA's fifth shot, Dahlkvist scored the winner.
Sweden will play the winner of Brazil-Australia in the semi-finals at the Maracana on Tuesday 16 August.