Sweden beat fragile Aussies
Terrible defending from Australia helped Sweden to a 3-1 Women’s World Cup quarter-final win in Augsburg.
Goals from Therese Sjogran and Lisa Dahlkvist put the Swedes 2-0 up early on, with Ellyse Perry netting a screamer for the Matildas to make it 2-1 before half-time.
The excellent Lotta Schelin gave the Swedes what was ultimately a comfortable victory, but the story was again about some horrific defending from the Australians, with a catalogue of blunders on display, two of which yielded goals - mostly thanks to the ineptitude of Kim Carroll.
Sweden now face Japan in the semi-finals on Wednesday, at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt.
The Swedes dominated the opening exchanges, technically superior and more disciplined than the Aussies, whose suspect defending again reared its head on five minutes as a terrible mis-kick by Carroll played Schelin in only for Sweden’s best attacking player to mis-control with just the keeper to beat.
The Matildas could barely get out of their own half and the Swedes took a deserved lead on 10 minutes when Sjogran put a good low finish inside Melissa Barbieri’s right-hand post, set up by a lovely touch, feint and pass by Schelin on the left.
The European side were rampant, hemming the Aussies inside their last third and picking up a second on the quarter hour.
While the opening goal was a touch of quality this, however, was down to non-existent marking from Perry and Carroll, who stood statuesque to allow Dahlkvist a free header from six yards.
It looked like Thomas Dennerby’s side would run away with it as the Aussies failed to string their passes together, mostly looking for long balls and only pressurising the Swedes from corners.
Indeed, Schelin - who looked the best player on the park - almost added a spectacular third with a solo run and effort from an angle on the left that curled just wide.
But somehow Tom Sermanni’s team pulled one back, and it was one of the goals of the tournament: five minutes before the break, a short-corner routine saw Perry curl a spectacular effort from an acute angle just inside the angle of the far post and crossbar.
It was a marvellous goal - although, as with many of the long-range efforts this tournament, Sweden keeper Hedvig Lindahl was perhaps a touch slow getting up and across - giving the Aussies hope going into half time.
Indeed it gave them more than hope as the Aussies came out of the blocks fastest, dominating the ball with Sweden apparently out of steam and unable to fend off the physical approach.
But, just as it seemed they would make a game of it, the Antipodeans pressed the self-destruct button.
Hapless centre-half Servet Uzunlar was the culprit with her horrendous backpasses against Equatorial Guinea in the group stage: but today it was all about Carroll’s howlers as the Brisbane Roar defender - under no pressure - again underhit a ball to Barbieri, Schelin intercepting and rounding the keeper in a flash to roll the ball into an empty net.
As one would expect the Aussies refused to give up, battling gamely for a route back into the match: Kyah Simon put a free header wide after an excellent cross from Tameka Butt, Lisa De Vanna curled one wide after showing a good turn of pace to get away from Sara Larsson, while late on Sweden keeper Lindahl - otherwise a bastion of calm - flapped at a long pass but saw the loose ball spin away to safety.
Sweden for their part seemed content with the counter attack, exploiting a high line from their opponents as Schelin went on a couple of charging runs from wide, only able to find the side netting on both occasions.
It should have been 4-1 too, as Schelin’s 79th-minute cross was mishandled by Barbieri, the ball seeming to cross the line but with no goal awarded.
There was no matter though as Sweden closed out a comfortable win in the end and they will face Japan, shock vanquishers of Germany on Saturday, for a place in the final.