Sweden Shocks USA in World Cup
Upsets and Victories: World Cup Round of 16 Delivers Drama and Surprises
- Sweden stuns USA in round of 16 on penalties.
- USA's dominant display fails to produce goals.
- Mušović shines in shootout, sending Sweden to quarters.
- Netherlands ends South Africa's dream with a 2-0 win.
In a stunning upset, Sweden eliminated the two-time defending champions USA from the Women's World Cup in a thrilling round of 16 clash that ended in a dramatic penalty shootout. Despite dominating the match, the US Women's National team failed to find the net, and Sweden secured a quarter-final spot.
In a stunning turn of events, two-time defending Women's World Cup champions USA faced an unexpected exit in the round of 16, succumbing to Sweden in a thrilling penalty shootout that ended 5-4 in favor of the Scandinavians. The match, held at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, was a nail-biting affair that left fans at the edge of their seats.
Despite dominating possession and creating numerous chances, the US Women's National team found themselves unable to break the deadlock for the second consecutive game in the tournament. They had finished the group stage with a goalless draw against Portugal, leaving many to question their attacking prowess. The pressure was mounting for the reigning champions, who had featured in the last three finals, securing the title four times, and never falling short of the semifinals at the Women's World Cup.
As the match concluded with a 0-0 scoreline through 90 minutes of regulation and an additional 30 minutes of extra time, the outcome was ultimately decided by a dramatic penalty shootout. Both teams displayed nerves of steel as they took turns converting their spot-kicks. After five successive goals gave the USA a 3-2 lead, Sweden's Nathalie Björn missed her attempt, seemingly setting the stage for the Americans to secure their spot in the quarterfinals. However, Megan Rapinoe, a decorated veteran of the US team, uncharacteristically launched her shot over the bar, keeping the game alive.
The intensity of the penalty shootout reached its climax in sudden death when Swedish midfielder Lina Hurtig stepped up to take the decisive kick. USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made a brilliant initial save, but the ball rebounded off her and hovered near the goal line. The tension in the stadium was palpable as VAR intervened to confirm the validity of Hurtig's goal, sending Sweden into jubilation and the US players into despair.
One of the standout performers of the match was Sweden's goalkeeper, Zećira Mušović. The 26-year-old shot-stopper displayed remarkable composure and skill throughout the encounter, denying the USA's relentless attacks time and again. Despite facing 11 shots on target, Mušović stood firm, preventing any breakthroughs from the American side.
In the first half, the USA's Trinity Rodman and captain Lindsey Horan were particularly threatening, forcing impressive saves from Mušović. Horan came close to breaking the deadlock with a powerful header that struck the crossbar in the 34th minute. The Swedish goalkeeper continued to frustrate the USA in the second half, making crucial saves to deny Alex Morgan and prevent a last-minute winner from Rapinoe.
Sweden's limited chances in regular time came through substitute Sofia Jakobsson, whose stinging left-footed effort was blocked by Naeher. In extra time, the Swedes upped the ante but were unable to find a breakthrough, thanks to Mušović's heroics.
Meanwhile, in an earlier match at the Sydney Football Stadium, the Netherlands ended South Africa's dream run with a 2-0 victory. Jill Roord's header gave the Dutch a flying start, and a goalkeeping error gifted Lineth Beerensteyn the decisive goal midway through the second half.
The Netherlands, runners-up in the previous World Cup, will now face Spain in the quarterfinals in Wellington.
As the dust settled on a memorable day of Women's World Cup action, the United States found themselves out of the tournament, leaving fans and pundits alike to reflect on the changing landscape of women's football. Sweden's victory signaled their strong presence in recent major tournaments and set the stage for a tough quarter-final battle against Japan.
For Megan Rapinoe, one of the most influential and iconic women's footballers of her generation, the match marked the end of an illustrious international career. Despite the heartbreak of her final match, Rapinoe's legacy will endure as she continues to inspire a new generation of young players around the world.
As the tournament progresses, the excitement and drama show no signs of abating. The stage is set for further surprises and unforgettable moments in the Women's World Cup, and fans can look forward to more thrilling encounters as the journey towards the final continues.
Sweden's penalty shootout victory over the USA in the Women's World Cup round of 16 shook the football world. The reigning champions, despite their dominance, were unable to score, leading to a nail-biting shootout. Sweden's goalkeeper, Zećira Mušović, emerged as the hero, making crucial saves and propelling her team to the next round.