Wednesday, February 21, 2024

FIFA Women’s World Cup: Sweden blank Italy 5-0 to enter knockouts

FIFA Womens World Cup
JUMPING FOR JOY: Sweden's Rebecka Blomqvist, left, celebrates after scoring her side's 5th goal during the World Cup Group G match in Wellington, New Zealand. Pic: AP Photo/John Cowpland

WELLINGTON, July 29: A three-goal blitz just before halftime helped Sweden to a dominant 5-0 win over Italy in Wellington on Saturday as they booked their spot in the Women’s World Cup knockout stage with a match to spare.
Amanda Ilestedt scored the first of her two goals in the 39th minute when she got up well to head home Jonna Andersson’s corner and further efforts from Fridolina Rolfo and Stina Blackstenius inside seven minutes ended the match as a contest.
Centre half Ilestedt found the net once again shortly after halftime — her third of the tournament — and substitute Rebecka Blomqvist completed the rout in stoppage time.
Italy dominated possession early on but could not deal with the Swedish aerial threat at corners and the 2003 runners-up handed them their worst defeat in a World Cup match.
The Italians had all the early pressure and Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic was forced into action to save forward Sofia Cantore’s shot in the first minute and another from the Juventus forward in the 17th.
Sweden gradually worked their way into the game and Ilestedt’s first goal flung open the floodgates.
Rolfo got her second goal of the campaign five minutes later with a flick off her knee from close range as the Italian defence struggled to deal with another corner.
The third goal came from open play in first half stoppage time when Johanna Kaneryd broke down the right flank and crossed the ball to Blackstenius in the middle for the striker to finish.
Ilestedt’s second goal in the 50th minute was a carbon copy of the first, as the Arsenal defender headed another into the net off a corner from Andersson.
Cantore missed chances in the 60th and 65th minutes and Valentina Giacinti spurned a great opportunity to pull one back for Italy in the 87th as she sent a shot from the middle of the box soaring over the bar.
The last Sweden goal came at the end of the match when Blomqvist raced clear of the Italian defenders and buried the ball in the bottom left corner of the net.
Although a hammer blow to Italy’s confidence, they can still advance to the last 16 by avoiding defeat in their final Group G fixture against South Africa on Wednesday.
Renard header earns France late victory over Brazil Women’s World Cup
Captain Wendie Renard led France to a dramatic 2-1 victory over Brazil in a thrilling encounter at Brisbane’s Lang Park on Saturday, securing their first win in Group F of the Women’s World Cup.
With the game hanging in the balance, Wendie Renard showcased her aerial prowess, heading in Selma Bacha’s well-placed corner with just seven minutes remaining.
The ball bounced back up off the turf, leaving goalkeeper Leticia with no chance as it nestled into the net, granting France all three crucial points. This victory came on the heels of their opening match, where they played out a goalless draw against Jamaica last Sunday.
France’s campaign gained momentum as they now sit on four points from their first two games, placing them one point ahead of Brazil, who had kicked off the tournament with a convincing 4-0 triumph over Panama.
Eugenie Le Sommer, France’s all-time leading scorer, gave her side the perfect start in the 17th minute, moments after seeing Leticia keep out her first effort at full stretch.
But here was little the Brazilian goalkeeper could do about Le Sommer’s opener as she steered her header in after Sakina Karchaoui’s arcing ball from deep on the left was headed back across goal by Kadidiatou Diani.
The Brazilians squandered the opportunity to level midway through the first half when Adriana shot wildly off target having set her sights on the top corner following Debinha’s layoff.
It took until the 58th minute for Pia Sundhage’s side to equalise, with Debinha pouncing to calmly slot beyond Pauline Peyraud-Magnin after Kerolin’s initial attempt was deflected into the striker’s path by Le Sommer.
But with seven minutes remaining France’s increased pressure paid off when Renard thumped her header into the Lang Park turf and the ball bounced beyond Leticia to earn her team a much-needed victory.
(Reuters/ToI With Reuters Inputs)