Sweden Defeat Brazil in Penalties

during the Women's Football Semi Final between Brazil and Sweden on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sweden celebrate semi final win over Brazil at Maracana Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

At a raucous Estadio Maracanã, the biggest crowd of The Games of the XXXI Olympiad to date saw the host nation dramatically eliminated by Sweden. the team that did not even qualify for the tournament. Chelsea goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl was once again the heroine as her two saves in the shoot-out left Lisa Dahlkvist the job of converting the winning kick for the second time in five days.

Sweden, starting with the powerful Stina Blackstenius, a revelation in the quarter-final, began more progressively than they had on Friday. In the eighth minute, Nilla Fischer’s raking 50 yard pass forward, found Lotta Schelin racing through but having chested the ball down, she lost her balance and lobbed the ball tamely over the bar.

Brazil roared on by an excitable crowd, pressed energetically and began to dominate. In the 23rd minute, Lindahl tipped over Debinha’s 12-yard header but that was much work as she had to do as Brazil struggled to play their way through their opponent’s rigid 4-5-1 formation. In the 28th minute Marta, so well-known to the Swedish team having played in their league since 2012, beautifully deceived Elin Rubensson before poking the ball across the goal. Three minutes later Fischer’s last ditch tacked foiled Beatriz as she tried to latch onto Formiga’s through pass. Just before half-time it was Beatriz again who headed straight at Lindahl from Andressa Alves’ cross.

The pattern of the game continued in the second half but Sweden might have taken the lead on the hour when Barbara’s poor clearance went straight to Caroline Seger. She instantly slotted the ball through to Blackstenius who poked a shot weekly at the relieved Brazilian keeper. Sofia Jakobsson replaced Blackstenius shortly after as a stifled Brazil began to lose their composure in the heat. They needed some inspiration and in the 73rd minute, Marta provided it, picking up a loose ball on halfway and surging past Lisa Dahlkvist before cutting inside a retreating Linda Sembrant but shot straight at Lindahl. Incredibly it took until the 76th minute for Sweden to concede a free kick, Jakobsson booked for halting another surging Marta run from deep. Brazil’s best chance of the second half came in the 94th minute when Andressa Alves’ free kick was met by Beatriz’s head from close range, but again straight at the well-positioned Lindahl.

The all-time Olympic leading goalscorer, Cristiane came on for the start of extra time in place of Debinha, but to little effect. In the 98th minute, Schelin flashed a header wide of Barbara’s near post from Kosovare Asllani’s corner for the best chance of the first period. Brazil upped the tempo after the turnaround but still Sweden looked more threatening. In the 109th minute, Schelin dispossessed Andressa Alves in midfield, Asllani carried the ball forward and released Schelin who turned Monica but scuffed her shot into the side-netting. Lindahl collided with a post saving a straightforward Marta free kick in the 118th minute and moments later she dropped a long cross straight to the same player but brilliantly saved Marta’s volley before Seger cleared Cristiane’s effort from in front of the line. Within a quarter of an hour, Lindahl had cleared her head sufficiently to leave the host nation with a hangover they will need to shake off before the Bronze Medal Play-off. Sweden will return to the Maracanã for their first-ever Olympic final and a shot at Gold.

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