It just wasn’t Sweden’s day. The way Wednesday’s Women’s World Cup semifinal between Sweden and Japan played out, these two teams could have played ten times and the same result – a 3-1 win for Japan – would have followed. No, not because Sweden was terrible, but Japan just looks to be a team of destiny.
All the heartache, all the loss, all the tragedy, has been temporarily put aside by Norio Sasaki’s team, which has not only been one of the best in this tournament but also one of the most visibly happy.
Clearly, this Women’s World Cup has served as a temporary but beautiful distraction from all of the hardship.
Josefine Öqvist gave Sweden the lead in just the 10th minute on Wednesday but she helped Japan equalize nine minutes later with what looked like an own goal despite Nahomi Kawasumi being credited with the tally.
Japan played its usual composed game and really took over control at the beginning of the second half. Homare Sawa – leader, captain and icon then scored the eventual game winner in the 60th minute with a well-weighted header and Kawasumi iced the game four minutes later when she sent a perfect lob into a vacated net.
Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl had a horrible game, particularly on Japan’s final two goals, where she was absolutely lost. Sweden again falls short at the Women’s World Cup and will have to settle for the third place game on Saturday against an inspiring French side.
Caroline Seger, who missed the match due to a reported strained calf, was sorely missed by Sweden in this one. The Swedes just could not muster up anything in the attack. They fired off just four shots in the entire match and just two of those were on frame.
Now, Japan marches onto the final on Sunday, when two teams of destiny face off in what could be the best final yet. The challenges Japan presents the United States with are very similar to what France brought to the table. Japan will likely own the possession battle again, but for the U.S. it’s just about winning. That’s all it was ever about and it’s exactly what the Americans have miraculously found a way to do over these past two games.
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