In a captivating clash at Brisbane’s Lang Park, Sweden secured their fourth Women’s World Cup bronze medal with an emphatic 2-0 victory over Australia.
The pulsating encounter saw Fridolina Rolfo convert a crucial penalty and Kosovare Asllani unleash a masterfully executed strike on both sides of halftime, propelling the Blue and Yellow to a remarkable third-place finish.
This achievement embellishes their podium records from 1991 and 2011.
Amid the electrifying atmosphere of co-hosting the event, Australia achieved their finest Women’s World Cup performance, capturing fourth place.
Regrettably, Tony Gustavsson’s squad witnessed their star striker, Sam Kerr, confined to a spectator’s role throughout the intense 90-minute battle.
Sweden stormed onto the field with an uncommon determination for matches of this nature. The resolute vigor of the Blue and Yellow quickly asserted its dominance, prompting Stina Blackstenius to challenge Australia’s goalkeeper, Mackenzie Arnold, within the opening two minutes.
This unyielding intensity endured for the initial quarter-hour, after which Australia found their tempo. Hayley Raso’s powerful shot, aimed for the top corner, tested Zecira Musovic’s mettle in the 22nd minute.
A fleeting moment of alarm came when Fridolina Rolfo’s header struck the framework in the 28th minute. However, a VAR review unearthed Clare Hunt’s foul on Blackstenius during the build-up, resulting in Sweden’s awarded penalty.
With unwavering precision, Rolfo stepped up and converted the spot-kick, nestling the ball low past Arnold’s outstretched reach.
Sweden’s supremacy persisted, evident in a close-range Filippa Angeldahl attempt that necessitated Arnold’s intervention just before halftime.
The opening half also bore witness to a head-on collision between Asllani and Caitlin Foord, temporarily halting play due to injury. Both valiant players returned for the second half, having received medical attention.
A symphony of finesse was played in the 62nd minute, with Asllani’s elegant finish capping off a collaborative move with Blackstenius. The ball found its mark in the bottom corner, leaving the Australian defense powerless.
Though Australia came tantalizingly close to narrowing the deficit in the 70th minute, Clare Polkinghorne’s close-range endeavor was steered straight into Musovic’s grasp.
Despite a spirited attempt to inspire the Brisbane crowd, the Matildas couldn’t breach the Swedish stronghold.
Sweden’s conquest sets the stage for an eagerly anticipated climax: a maiden final between England and Spain.
The long-awaited spectacle is set to kick off at 1 PM EAT at Sydney’s illustrious Stadium Australia on Sunday.