Stina Blackstenius’ brace and Lina Hurtig’s thumping header gave Sweden a deserved victory, with the US trying a shadow of the aspect that received the World Cup two years in the past.
Sweden was unquestionably the higher workforce from the primary whistle to the final and the USWNT, which got here into this Olympics as a powerful favourite, has a lot to enhance on within the coming video games in opposition to New Zealand and Australia ought to it wish to win a fifth gold medal.
This historic end result for Sweden will give the workforce confidence it will possibly go one higher than Rio 2016, the place it fell to Germany on the last hurdle within the gold medal match.
For the US, the defeat ends a 44-game unbeaten run — 40 wins and 4 attracts — that had stretched all the way in which again to January 2019 when it misplaced 3-1 to France in a pleasant.
Sweden bought the higher of the US the final time these two groups met on the Olympic stage, popping out on high after a penalty shootout within the quarterfinals 5 years in the past in Brazil.
Nonetheless, there wasn’t a lot signal of that motivation throughout the opening exchanges of the match in Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium — earlier than which each groups took a knee within the empty area — as Sweden exerted its dominance from the opening whistle.
The Swedes quickly bought the purpose their early play deserved as Sofia Jakobsson’s whipped cross was glanced house brilliantly by Blackstenius on the close to put up after 25 minutes.
The US had barely managed to get out of its personal half on this opening 45 minutes, a lot much less get any form of foothold within the sport, with Sweden having fun with greater than 60% of possession.
Blackstenius had a beautiful alternative to double Sweden’s lead simply earlier than the break, controlling an extended go brilliantly on her chest however simply getting the ball caught below her ft to permit US keeper Alyssa Naeher to return out and smother the possibility.
Given the extent of the expertise within the US squad, nevertheless, it was at all times going to be unlikely Sweden may comprise its opponents for your entire half. It was Rose Lavelle who had the possibility to equalize, however her header from an extended ball into the field crashed in opposition to the surface of the put up.
That it was the reigning world champion’s solely actual likelihood of word within the first half was a testomony to Sweden’s superiority, the yellow shirts swarming the US gamers in midfield and never permitting them a second to calm down on the ball.
The one unfavorable from Sweden’s perspective was that it had solely managed to open up a one-goal lead — would the workforce rue that profligacy in entrance of purpose?
USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski made two substitutions firstly of the second half, with the vastly skilled Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz approaching to exchange Alex Morgan and Samantha Mewis.
Ertz appeared to instantly breath new life into the US workforce, however simply when it appeared just like the momentum of the sport was shifting, Sweden doubled its benefit.
Blackstenius this time picked up the scraps on the far put up after a Swedish nook brought about mayhem within the US field and poked the ball previous Naeher into the roof of the online.
From there, it solely bought worse for the US workforce.
After substitute Megan Rapinoe hit the put up when she maybe she ought to have scored, Sweden put an exclamation mark subsequent to its efficiency as Hurtig rose excessive within the field to go house from Hanna Glas’ cross.
The digicam lower to the US bench the place a bemused Andonovski sat helplessly on the bench.
He now has loads to ponder now forward of the powerful upcoming fixtures in opposition to New Zealand and Australia ought to the US wish to keep away from a shock early exit.