Sweden shock holders USA in last 16 of Women's World Cup

Swedes and Netherlands progress to quarter-finals on dramatic day Down Under

Sweden forward Lina Hurtig, centre, and teammates celebrate after their penalty shoot-out win against the USA in Melbourne on August 6, 2023. AFP
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Sweden knocked out holders USA after VAR intervened in a chaotic penalty shoot-out that ultimately settled their last-16 tie at the Women's World Cup.

Lina Hurtig's winning penalty initially appeared to have been saved by USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, however VAR officials stepped in, with video replays confirming that the entire ball had just crossed the line.

Sweden were able to celebrate a 5-4 win on penalties after an extremely tense goalless draw in Melbourne on Sunday.

The USA, who won the last two editions of the tournament, had led 3-2 in the shoot-out but Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith missed their spot kicks and the Swedes took full advantage in sudden death.

Goalkeeper Naeher scored for the USA but with their next effort Kelley O’Hara hit the right post to give Hurtig the chance to win it.

"We're so happy right now. I don't know how we managed to stay in this game," said a jubilant Sweden captain, Magdalena Eriksson, whose side will now face Japan in the quarter-finals on Friday.

"We didn't play our best game, but in some way we showed we're hard-headed, we showed heart, we never give up. We took it to extra time, we took it to penalties and we managed to win."

For four-time World Cup winners the USA, it was the first time they have failed to at least reach the semi-finals of the competition.

Losing captain Lindsey Horan said: "A lot went into this performance, we were confident and patient and played beautiful football. We created chances, we didn't score and to be frank, penalties suck.

"I'm proud of every player who stepped up to take one. I'm very proud of my team. Some of the young players coming through are killing it."

Earlier in the day, the Netherlands beat South Africa 2-0 at the Sydney Football Stadium to set up a last-eight clash with Spain in Wellington on Friday.

The Dutch were put under severe pressure, however, and manager Andries Jonker hailed the performance of goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar, who made a number of vital saves to repel the South Africans.

The 23-year-old Aston Villa goalkeeper was named the player of the match, and Jonker said: "If you compare her with other keepers, I think she's developed a lot.

"Daphne is one of the new generation. They're athletic, they're in good shape, they've got good positioning, so the developments in that area are incredible and the Netherlands are right along there."

Jonker's side took the lead in the ninth minute when Jill Roord headed in from close range and Lineth Beerensteyn sealed the win in the 68th minute when her shot squirmed through the arms of South Africa goalkeeper Kaylin Swart.

The round of 16 continues today, with England facing Nigeria in Brisbane (11:30am UAE).

The Lionesses were handed a welcome boost when midfielder Keira Walsh trained with the squad to put herself in contention to face the Africans. The Barcelona star had been stretchered off in their opening game.

Elsewhere, tournament co-hosts Australia face off against Denmark (2:30pm UAE) with a 70,000-plus crowd expected at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

The Matildas have been sweating on the fitness of captain Sam Kerr, but coach Tony Gustavsson has confirmed his star player will feature.

“We had a nice moment as a team yesterday to see her back with boots on and touching the ball and being with the team in training,” he said.

"We need to see how many minutes will be suitable, looking at the 90 minutes and potentially extra-time, and how we get the most out of Sam Kerr in a game plan.”

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Updated: August 06, 2023, 7:25 PM