TOKYO – Sweden didn’t have to defend against the Americans this time around.
Stina Blackstenius scored twice and the Swedes surprised the United States at the Olympics with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday in the women’s soccer tournament.
The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world and the favorites to win gold in Tokyo, led a 44-game unbeaten streak before the game. But Sweden, ranked n. 5, has been the archenemy of the American team in recent years. The Swedes rebounded the Americans from the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games in the quarter-finals, the United States’ first Olympic outing of all time, taking a defensive stance.
In April, Sweden faced the United States in a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, which ended a winning streak dating back to January 2019 when the Americans lost to France in the run-up to the Cup. world. It was the only US team draw this year.
“Were we expecting this result tonight? No, ”said American striker Megan Rapinoe, who did not start but came into play in the 64th minute with the score of 2-0. “It’s frustrating, and it’s frustrating that it’s Sweden. They found a lot of space on us. I don’t even know how many goals we’ve given up this year. I can’t remember the last time we allowed a goal. So giving up on three isn’t great. “
Sweden’s offensive deserved all the credit. Blackstenius’ header in the far corner on a Sofia Jakobsson cross in the 26th minute gave the team a lead in the first half.
The USA, who came out flawed, had their best chance of the first half in the dying moments when Rose Lavelle’s shot hit the post. Coach Vlatko Andonovski made changes for the second half, replacing Carli Lloyd for Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz for Sam Mewis.
But Blackstenius scored again in the 54th minute, beating goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher as the Americans continued to struggle. Lina Hurtig added the last goal in the 72nd.
Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl admitted the victory over the favorites was encouraging, but it’s still only the start of the tournament. Upcoming group matches against Australia and New Zealand.
“I know for a fact that you can go a long way in a tournament even if you lose to the United States or whatever you play in Game 1,” Lindahl said. “So in the end I don’t know what that means, but for sure we’ve shown the world and ourselves that we can play well against a team like USA or any team. . “
The loss was the first for the United States under Andonovski, who took over when former coach Jill Ellis resigned following the team’s World Cup victory in France. At the end of the match, Andonovski was sitting expressionless on the bench.
The Swedes were deprived of Magda Eriksson due to an injury. The team said they had practiced but due to the tight tournament schedule they were held out of the first game.
Tokyo is the seventh edition of the Olympic Games in Sweden. After being eliminated by Sweden on penalties in the quarter-finals five years ago, USA goalkeeper Hope Solo called the Swedes cowards for their defensive tactics.
Sweden won the silver medal, losing 2-1 to Germany in the final.
The United States has competed in all seven Olympics which also included women’s football, winning four Olympic gold medals, more than any other country. The team aims to become the first to win Olympic gold after a World Cup title.
In 2008, the United States also lost their first game, 2-0 to Norway, but went on to win the gold medal.
“I think at the end of the day as an athlete you go through ups and downs, and it’s a tough result, but that’s the nature of a tough tournament,” said the forward. American Christen Press. “It wasn’t going to be easy. We weren’t going to get through six games no matter what. So here we are. “
This was only the sixth time the United States has lost by three or more goals.
Sweden now lead Group G ahead of Saturday’s game against Australia in Saitama, while the United States face New Zealand in the same stadium. The two best teams in the group qualify for the round of 16.
“It is what it is,” said Rapinoe. “We were beaten and we have two more games to come quickly. And now we know exactly what to do. We have to win those games and eventually get out of the squad and go from there. “
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