US edge past Spain to advance in Women’s WC

Reims, Jun 25 (IANS) | Publish Date: 6/25/2019 12:31:47 PM IST

After outscoring opponents 18-0 in the group stage of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the US had to work hard for a 2-1 victory over Spain in the knockout stage.

Spain, making their first appearance in the round of 16 on Monday, opted to emphasise physicality in the contest against the premier side in international women’s soccer, who are pursuing a fourth World Cup title, reports Efe news. 

And while La Roja’s rugged approach kept the match competitive, it also proved to be their undoing, as both US goals resulted from penalties.

Referee Katalin Kulcsar pointed to the spot in the seventh minute after Spain’s Mapi Leon fouled Tobin Heath. Megan Rapinoe converted to give the defending champions an early lead in front of an overwhelmingly pro-US crowd at Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.

But the Spanish women were back on level terms just two minutes later thanks to a poor clearing attempt by US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

The keeper saw her pass to Becky Sauerbrunn cut off by Lucia Garcia, leaving the ball for Jenni Hermoso, who tucked it into the top right corner for her third goal of the competition.

The equalizer buoyed Spain, who held firm despite losing midfielder Vicky Losada to injury in the 31st minute and managed to keep themselves in the match until Virginia Torrecilla fouled Rose Lavelle in the 70th minute.

Kulcsar awarded the penalty, only to then consult VAR, and the match clock was at 75 by the time Rapinoe took the kick to make it 2-1.

The outcome sets up a tantalizing quarterfinal clash between the US and host nation France, whose men’s team hoisted the 2018 World Cup, set for next Sunday at Parc des Princes in Paris.

Sweden beat Canada to reach last 8

Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius struck in the second half as they won 1-0 against Canada, who missed a late penalty, at the women’s World Cup to set up a quarter-final against Germany.

In sweltering conditions at the Parc des Princes, the two teams struggled to register any shots on target in a first half despite Canada dominating possession.

That all changed after the break when the Swedes stepped up a level and they were finally rewarded in the 55th minute when the Canadians lost possession of the ball in midfield.

Kosovare Asllani played an inch perfect diagonal ball to striker Blackstenius, who prodded the ball past onrushing keeper Stephanie Labbe.

It was her first goal of the tournament and it freed the Swedish team, which almost added a second with a thunderous drive from Fridolina Rolfo in the 61st minute.

Canada had a chance to get back into the game after 68 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review ruled that Asllani had handled the ball.

However, veteran Sweden keeper Hedvig Lindahl dived to her right to tip Janine Beckie’s spot kick away.

The save appeared to suck the spirit out of the Canadians who struggled to create much beyond a few half chances and Asllani almost scored for Sweden five minutes from time as she volleyed in from a corner, but her shot was cleared off the line.

Sweden will now face two-time champions Germany on Saturday in Rennes in a repeat of the 2003 final. The Swedes have not beaten the Germans since 1995.

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