Sweden held on to beat England, 2-1, on Saturday in Nice to claim third place at the Women’s World Cup. It is the Swedes’ third bronze medal at the tournament, tying the United States for the most in World Cup history.
The Swedes struck early with goals by Kosovare Asllani in the 11th minute and Sofia Jakobsson in the 22nd minute. They appeared headed for a dominant victory when England turned around matters with a goal by Fran Kirby in the 31st. Just two minutes later, it appeared Ellen White had tied the match, but it was disallowed when the video assistant referee ruled White had committed a handball.
From there, Sweden managed to thwart England’s attacks throughout the second half despite mounting pressure.
England failed to repeat its third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup, but it appears Phil Neville won’t be losing any sleep over it. The English manager, a voluble presence all tournament, told the BBC after the match that the third-place game is a “nonsense game.”
90th minute +5: England gets a yellow card
Jade Moore is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
90th minute: Heads-up save by Nilla Fischer
Playing in her fourth and final World Cup tournament, defender Nilla Fischer had the save heard ‘round Sweden as she stood her ground in goal and stopped a Lucy Bronze strike with her head.
85th minute: Yellow card for Hedvig Lindahl
It took a while but the first card of the match was issued, to Sweden’s goalkeeper.
83rd minute: English substitution
The Lionesses made their final substitution of regulation when Rachel Daly took over for Abbie McManus.
74th minute: English substitution
Veteran midfielder Karen Carney replaced Nikita Parris. England has one more substitution remaining unless the match goes to extra time.
72nd minute: Swedish substitution
The Blue and Yellow made its third and final switch as defender Nathalie Bjorn was replaced by Amanda Ilestedt.
50th minute: England substitution
Jodie Taylor came on for the Lionesses to replace Beth Mead.
Halftime: Sweden 2, England 1
England continues to show how much it misses starting goalie Karen Bardsley, who allowed only one goal in the tournament but is sidelined for the second straight match because of injury. Her replacement, Carly Telford, has allowed four goals in the team’s last three halves of play.
Sweden’s goals, by Kosovare Asllani in the 11th minute and Sofia Jakobsson in the 22nd, provided a comfortable lead before the Lionesses offered two quick responses late in the half. Fran Kirby struck first for England in the 31st minute while Ellen White appeared to even the score in the 33rd minute before her goal was overturned by the video assistant referee.
White had another terrific chance in the final seconds of stoppage time when she was sprung free on a through ball by Nikita Parris, but her attempt was deflected away by Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Fridolina Rolfo’s early exit could play a substantial role in how the Blue and Yellow approaches the second half. The Swedes made one substitution at the half, replacing Asllani with Julia Zigiotti Olme.
33rd minute: England goal disallowed
Ellen White initially appeared to tie the match — and move into the lead for the Golden Boot with her seventh goal of the tournament. But after video replay it was ruled that she committed a handball in trying to control the ball before turning to shoot.
31st minute: Goal, England
Fran Kirby put the Lionesses on the after a quality dish from Jill Scott snuck the ball past a plethora of Swedish defenders. Kirby’s left-footed boot crossed in front of Sweden goalie Hedvig Lindahl to sneak inside the left post.
27th minute: Swedish substitution
Lina Hurtig replaced Fridolina Rolfö because of what appeared to be a lower left leg injury.
22nd minute: Goal, Sweden
Sofia Jakobsson gave the Blue and Yellow an early 2-0 lead after a nice feed from Stina Blackstenius gives Jakobsson a chance to take advantage of a closing window in England’s defense. Jakobsson snuck the shot right past Lioness Steph Houghton for her second goal of the tournament.
11th minute: Goal, Sweden
Kosovare Asllani pounced on a poor clearance by the English defense, putting a close-range, low laser between two English defenders and past diving Lioness goaltender Carly Telford. It was the first shot credited to either team. It marked Asllani’s 35th career goal for her national team.
And we’re off!
England and Sweden begin their battle for the bronze on a sunny Saturday in Nice. The Lionesses look to repeat their third-place finish from 2015 while the Blue and Yellow seek to regain the bronze they earned in 2011. Sweden leads the all-time series, with 11 victories, four draws and two losses in 17 meetings.
Setting the stage
Is there some measure of vindication in winning the third-place match at the Women’s World Cup? The teams best qualified to answer that question will meet for bronze on Saturday.
Eight years ago, Sweden took third, beating France in the tournament’s penultimate game after losing to eventual champion Japan in the semifinals. Four years ago, it was England that finished third, beating Germany after a semifinal loss to Japan.
Now it’s England against Sweden Saturday in Nice, the third straight all-European third-place match and a chance for one of these teams to leave France on a high.
There is another motivation on the English side, where forward Ellen White is tied with American Alex Morgan atop the Golden Boot standings. Both players have six goals, one more than American Megan Rapinoe, who missed the semifinals with a hamstring injury.
“I think [a loss] would be a huge disappointment, and we hold ourselves accountable for not getting to that final,” White said, via the BBC. “A medal would be something that we’ll be really proud of and we can look each other in the eye and think we did achieve something at this World Cup. It may not be gold but a bronze medal is still an achievement. Not many people can say they’ve got a medal at a World Cup and that’s our priority.”
England had been undefeated at the World Cup before the 2-1 semifinal loss to the United States. Sweden has two losses: a 2-0 decision to the U.S. in group play and a 1-0 loss to the Netherlands on Wednesday, with the game’s only goal coming in extra time.
England midfielder Karen Carney, playing in her fourth World Cup, said she would retire from the sport after Saturday’s match. And the Lionesses’ back line will have some uncertainty, with Millie Bright suspended after two yellow cards in the semifinal, and captain Steph Houghton undoubtedly still tortured by a missed penalty kick against the U.S.
But the counterattacking Swedes have just three goals in their last four matches, and are coming off a 120-minute marathon.
“I would never forgive myself if we didn’t manage to recharge and give everything for the third-place match,” defender Linda Sembrant said, via FIFA’s official site.
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