Sweden eliminates USWNT from World Cup in dramatic penalty shootout

The USWNT, or the United States women’s national soccer team, was the defending champion and the favorite to win the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. However, they faced a tough challenge from Sweden, who had beaten them 3-0 in the group stage and had a history of upsetting them in major tournaments. The two teams met again in the round of 16 on August 6, 2023, at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

The match was a tense and tight affair, with neither side able to break the deadlock in 120 minutes of regular and extra time. The USWNT had more shots on goal (12) than Sweden (1), but they could not find a way past the Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who made 23 saves. Sweden also defended well as a unit, limiting the space and opportunities for the USWNT’s star players like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith.

The game went to a penalty shootout, where both teams had to take five kicks each from the spot. Sweden went first and scored all five of their penalties, with Lina Hurtig, Magdalena Eriksson, Hanna Bennison, Rebecka Blomqvist and Nathalie Bjorn converting their kicks. The USWNT missed two of their first four penalties, with Kelley O’Hara and Sophia Smith hitting the crossbar. Alyssa Naeher and Kristie Mewis scored for the USWNT, but it was not enough to keep them in the game.

The decisive moment came when Rapinoe stepped up to take the fifth and final penalty for the USWNT. She needed to score to keep her team alive, but her low shot was saved by Lindahl’s left foot. The ball bounced back towards Rapinoe, who tried to tap it in, but Naeher reached back with her right arm and slapped it away. The ball crossed the line by a millimeter before being cleared by Naeher, but it was too late. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) confirmed that it was a goal for Sweden, ending the USWNT’s hopes of a third consecutive World Cup title.

Sweden celebrated their historic victory over the USWNT, while the USWNT players were left stunned and heartbroken by their early exit from the tournament. It was the first time that the USWNT failed to reach the quarterfinals of a World Cup, and their worst-ever finish in their history.

Sweden vs USA

Women's World Cup

Women World Cup

Round of 16

SwedenYesterday  (5) 0 – 0 (4)USA

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