Depart Australia Fair


Australia 1 : 3 Sweden

by Kara McDermott

Sweden took their momentum from earning top seeding in group play and built on it to boast the best goal line in quarterfinals so far with just the US vs. Brazil game to go. Australia fought to the last minutes, but dropped three goals to the crafty Swedish offense, and could only answer with one of their own.


Sweden had the first real chance in the 6th minute when Lotta Schelin intercepted a poor pass back to Aussie goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri whose advanced position did allow her to save the shot from the top of the box. Australia answered the next minute on a dangerous service into the box after a short corner to Elyse Perry.


This would be a theme of the match, with both teams offering back and forth opportunities.


But it was US slayers Sweden who got on the board first. In the 10th minute, Schelin received the ball on the left side, took it deep towards the touch line, beat her defender on a quick touch and passed to Therese Sjogran in the center of the penalty area. Sjogran tallied her first career World Cup goal at the age of 34 by slotting the ball near post.


Australia continued to attack, creating particular issues for the Swedish defense on set pieces, but Sweden followed up their first goal with another in the 16th minute. Sjogran crossed from the left side to Lisa Dahlkvist, left unmarked in the center of the area. She easily headed the ball point blank to the right corner. At the time of this goal, Sweden had just three shots, but had capitalized on two.


Sweden was looking with this lead to overcome two dubious records hidden in their narrative. They are the only team in World Cup to go up by two goals before losing the match by dropping to Germany in group play in the 1995 tournament. They also have not shut out a team in World Cup play since beating Nigeria 3-0 in 2003 (seemed to work out for them anyway, they were runners-up that year).


Australia, who started the game with a career record of 5-1-2 against Sweden, made sure that at least one of these records would stand.


In the 40th minute, Australia took away the shut-out from goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. A corner from the right side was sent short up the sideline. Elyse Perry touched the ball inside to set up her left foot for a long-range shot outside the penalty area, wound up, and fired a perfect shot into the high far post corner.


Like both quarterfinals yesterday, Australia, held a solid lead in possession (60% at half, 53% overall), but was outshot at halftime by their opponents. This echoed France and German’s superior shot lines against the better possessed England and Japan, respectively.


Australia’s Lisa De Vanna was one of their hardest workers and most consistent threat. Her team looked for her again and again to get them back in the game.


However, Australia’s defense didn’t help much. Mirroring the defensive error in the 6th minute, defender Kim Carroll passed back to Barbieri without noticing that Schelin was lurking in the center. Schelin pounced on the opportunity, intercepting the gift-wrapped ball. Barbieri came out to pressure, but Schelin touched the ball around the right side of the keeper, ran around her on the left, picked up the ball again and lightly finished for Sweden’s third goal in the 52nd minute.


Australia continued to show their character by never letting up on the Swedish defense, eventually outshooting Sweden by a slim margin of 14-13, but their grit and perseverance were not enough to overcome the charge of Schelin and her side.


Sweden took a tough blow when midfielder Nilla Fischer was given a yellow card on a hard foul in the 81st minute. She will thus be ineligible to play in Sweden’s next game.


Sweden will take their trademark celebratory dance into their semi-final match against Japan on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. PST.

Kara McDermott also writes for her blog, Waving the Rave. (


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