Hammar blow for France

Marie Hammarstrom’s 82nd minute goal earned Sweden a 2-1 victory over France in the match for third place in the Rhine-Neckar Arena in Sinsheim.

The 29-year-old midfielder, who replaced Linda Forsberg in the 62nd minute, received the ball from a short corner, evaded the attentions of Eugenie Le Sommer and Sonia Bompastor before unleashing an unstoppable left footed drive into the top corner of the net.

It was a goal which separated two evenly matched sides and worthy of winning any game of football.

Bruno Bini made two changes in defence for France, bringing in Wende Renard and Corine Franco, while Nilla Fischer came into the Sweden side as captain following her one-match ban. Caroline Seger was named among the substitutes despite her calf injury.

After a slow start, Sweden took the lead in the 29th minute when Sara Larsson’s long ball from the back was well controlled by Lotta Schelin and the forward slipped the ball past the onrushing Berangere Sapowicz. The French goalkeeper had to be substituted immediately afterwards, injuring her ankle when jumping to reach the ball on the edge of her penalty area.

There was more bad news for Les Bleues when the influential Louisa Necib had to be replaced at the same stage after jarring her knee in a battle for the ball with Annica Svensson. As half-time approached, Elise Bussaglia tried two attempts from outside the area. The first struck the post, while the second forced a good save from Hedvig Lindahl.

However, it was the Scandinavians who finished the half stronger. First Charlotte Rohlin headed over from a Sara Thunebro corner and then Schelin had a glorious opportunity to make it 2-0 just before the break, but fired straight at substitute keeper Celine Deville from 12 yards.

France equalised in the 56th minute when Svensson was pulled out of position while trying to rob the ball from Gaetane Thiney. However, the French forward was able to slip the ball into the path of substitute Elodie Thomis, who was in acres of space. The Lyon forward, a team-mate of Schelin’s showed a similar type of composure to squeeze the ball just inside Lindahl’s right hand post.

There were chances at either end midway through the second half. First Josefine Oqvist scuffed a shot which hit the post when a square pass would have given Schelin the simplest of opportunities. Then Thomis was guilty of the same profligacy with two narrow misses within the space of a minute. Firstly Lindahl blocked her shot, while from the ensuing corner Thomis flicked an effort inches wide of the near post.

Sweden were reduced to ten in the 68th minute when Oqvist was shown a straight red card for lashing out at Sonia Bompastor after the pair tussled by the byline. Yet, despite the numerical disadvantage, Thomas Dennerby’s side took the lead with eight minutes to go when substitute Hammarstrom unleashed her wonder-strike to hand Sweden the bronze medal.

Player of the match: Sara Larsson (SWE)