Two early goals were enough for Sweden to defeat England for third place at the Women’s World Cup on Saturday. Both teams began applying immediate pressure early and often, but it was ultimately Kosovare Asllani who broke through for the Swedes in the eleventh minute after a poor English clearance basically handed her the goal on a silver platter.
Only 11 minutes of game time needed to pass before Sweden struck again. This time, it was Sofia Jakobsson who scored after making her way into the box and firing off a rocket past some less-than-stellar defending by the Lionesses.
Of course, the curse that usually comes alongside the blessing of two early goals is the fact that there’s plenty of time for a comeback. England seemed to understand this quite well and got one goal back from Sweden thanks to an incredible run from Fran Kirby where her curled shot off the far corner did not even elicit a reaction from keeper Hedvig Lindahl. Less than 10 minutes after the Swedes doubled their lead, England were right back in it.
The celebrations from the first goal had only just ended when England’s Ellen White brought down a cross from Beth Mead, turned her defender and launched what appeared the be the equalizing goal into the back of the net. But it wouldn’t be a Women’s World Cup game without VAR stepping in at an inopportune time for the English, and it did just that with this goal. The powers that be determined that was controlled in part by White’s arm, so for the second time in just as many games, White had a VAR-disallowed goal.
Momentum remained on England’s side for the remainder of the half and it was converted into powerful waves of offense in the second half. The efforts were only enough to force some saves from Lindahl and a desperation clearance from Nilla Fischer.
The final whistle blew and the scoreline read 2-1 in favor of Sweden. The tears of England’s players began to flow as many of them slumped onto the pitch. Meanwhile, Sweden was celebrating the victory with an energy that was almost as if they had won the whole tournament, showing once again that these often-maligned matches still retain some value.