FIFA Women's World Cup: Sweden secure last-16 berth after crushing Italy

Wellington, July 29 (IANS) Sweden showed their commanding ability in aerial duels as they scored thrice through corners to beat Italy 5-0 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup here on Saturday, sealing a last-16 place with one round to spare.

Sweden carved out a hard-fought win in the opening match as they turned around South Africa 2-1, while Italy beat Argentina 1-0 thanks to Cristiana Girelli’s late winner.

Italy were aggressive from the beginning as Sofia Cantore tested Zecira Musovic just under one minute into the game, before Lucia Di Guglielmo hit the side net, but Sweden managed to weather that early siege and built up their advantage soon, a Xinhua report said.

The No. 3 in FIFA’s ranking broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when Amanda Ilestedt headed a Jonna Andersson’s corner into the net.

Sweden quickly rode the momentum as they added another five minutes later when another Andersson’s corner fell for Fridolina Rolfo to find the net.

The bronze medalist of the 2019 World Cup ran riot in the stoppage time when a great teamwork tore Italy’s defense apart, and Johanna Kaneryd rolled across for Stina Blackstenius to tap in.

Sweden kept dangerous in set-piece as they put together a series of corners straight after the break and scored in the 50th minute as Ilestedt bagged a brace thanks to Andersson’s assist.

Italy’s attacking hardly threatened Sweden’s goal and the yellow and blue rounded the scoreline in the dying minute when a long ball found Rebecka Blomqvist who dribbled past the defenders to beat Francesca Durante one-on-one.

With the win, Sweden have already secured the berth for next stage, while Italy, South Africa and Argentina all kept their last-16 spot hopes alive.

Sweden will meet Argentina in the third round on next Wednesday, Italy take on South Africa.

–IANS

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