Sweden have picked up their fourth Women’s World Cup bronze medal after beating co-hosts Australia 2-0 in the third-place playoff match.
The Swedes, ranked third in the world, were awarded a penalty in the 28th minute of the game on Saturday after a VAR review showed Australia’s Clare Hunt clipped Stina Blackstenius’ heels, and Fridolina Rolfo slotted home the resulting spot kick.
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Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani doubled their lead just after the hour mark, rifling a sweet strike from the edge of the penalty area beyond goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold following another quick counterattack.
While disappointed to sign off at the World Cup with another defeat, the Matildas still achieved their best result at the tournament having never previously gone beyond the quarterfinal stage.
The tournament has set attendance records, had packed fan zones around the country, and two of Australia’s matches became the most-watched programmes on domestic commercial TV in 20 years.
England play Spain in the final on Sunday.
Sweden started brightly and could have made a dream start when Blackstenius fired a low drive across goal in the opening minute, but the attempt was palmed away by Arnold and cleared by defender Ellie Carpenter.
The Matildas soon found their passing rhythm, tearing forward on the counter through Hayley Raso but the winger’s effort was blocked. Raso was denied again midway through the half with Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic making a fine save.
Rolfo headed against the bar from Asllani’s wonderful cross shortly before Sweden were given a penalty, the decision loudly jeered by the capacity crowd of 49,461.
With the pace of the game picking up, Arnold made a magnificent low save to keep out Rolfo’s free kick in the closing minutes of the half.
Moments after Australia coach Tony Gustavsson made his first substitutions the Matildas fell further behind, Asllani finishing off an incisive break before being mobbed by her delighted teammates.
Australia pushed forward in numbers but looked out of energy and ideas. Their efforts to claw their way back into the game were hampered when star striker Sam Kerr picked up a knock late on and Sweden closed out the game comfortably.
The Swedes, runners-up in 2003, beat Germany in 1991, France in 2011 and England four years ago in their previous bronze-medal matches.