- Stina Blackstenius describes her relief at ending her Sweden goal drought
- Hedvig Lindahl’s team-mates reflect on her splendid spot-kick save
- The Round-of-16 game "felt like a year" to one Swede
By Alexandra Jonson with Sweden
Stina Blackstenius and Hedvig Lindahl were both going through examining periods heading into the Round of 16 at this FIFA Women’s World Cup™. The former, so often Sweden’s player for the big occasion, hadn’t netted for them in over a year. The latter, arguably their finest-ever goalkeeper, had a difficult end to her recently-concluded Chelsea career.
When it mattered most against Canada, however, the pair produced. Blackstenius first, with what was Sweden’s first real chance in a 1-0 victory.
“It was of course a huge relief and I’m incredibly happy over the goal,” she told FIFA. ”It also means a lot to get it in a match like the one yesterday.”
That goal changed the match as Sweden gained confidence, became more creative, and seemed to finally have things under control. ”We got a lot of energy from the goal, but then we were hit with the setback of the penalty,” said Blackstenius.
Then it was Hedvig Lindahl’s time to shine. ”I didn’t really have a lot to do in the match, except for that penalty save,” said the 36-year-old goalkeeper.
But what a save it was, with Lindahl flinging herself south-east and tipping Janine Beckie’s accurate, low strike – Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller later described it as a “good penalty” – round the post. It sent Sweden into the quarter-finals, and won Lindahl the Player of the Match award presented by Visa.
“It was a really incredible save, and I think it gave us even more energy than the goal,” said Blackstenius. “We just felt, ‘We’ve got this now’.”
Magdalena Eriksson added: ”I had a feeling that [Lindahl] would get it. When she produced the amazing save, it was complete ecstasy. I think we all reacted with pure emotion. We ran to hug her and then it was like, ‘Hedvig has done her bit – now it’s our turn to do ours.’”
“I believed in her and knew she’d do everything to save it,” said Sofia Jakobsson. “She saved us.”
Lindahl believed in her own capabilities too: ”It’s a situation I’ve prepared myself for. I know Beckie quite well and what corner she likes to put it in. So I went for that and hoped I had enough energy in my legs to get there. Fortunately I did.”
A longed-for goal and a magical save may have received the headlines, but there were more than just two heroes for Sweden at the Parc des Princes. Seven minutes of added time, and a Canada team that refused to give up, meant Peter Gerhardsson's charges had to give everything to get over the line.
“It felt like a year in my world,” said Eriksson. “But we are quite experienced in these type of situations. All 11 players defended really hard for each other.”
Sofia Jakobsson reckons that work ethic will be crucial against Germany in the quarter-finals: ”Team spirit, we fight together both in attack and defence, we really are a team, and that’s what we will take with us when we go to Rennes.”
Fans interested in attending the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 can still purchase tickets for the tournament via www.fifa.com/tickets, as well as via ticket booths located at stadia for remaining matches still available to the general public.