Soccer Results and Highlights [2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia/New Zealand]
Saturday 23 July 2023 14:00
Group G Sweden 2-1 South Africa
Sloppy Swedes leave it late to break South African hearts
22 h ago, Chris Wilson
Sweden made hard work of their FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) opener as they laboured to a 2-1 victory against South Africa, scoring in the 90th minute to complete a comeback win and get their campaign off to a perfect start.
As demonstrated in the lion’s share of WWC games so far this tournament, the margins have been fine. The opening stages of this game showcased all the signs that it was going to follow suit, with a hopeful Refiloe Jane effort from 40 yards which dropped onto the roof of the net about as close as either side came to an opener inside the first half-hour.
Sweden will undoubtedly have felt a little aggrieved they weren’t given the opportunity to go into the break in front though, as South Africa survived a VAR check after Hildah Magaia seemingly handled in the area. For the complete lack of attacking quality on offer in the first half, the second got off to a much better start as South Africa took a surprise lead inside three minutes of the restart. Thembi Kgatlana did the heavy lifting in the build up, but as her initial effort was too hot to handle for Zećira Mušović, Magaia was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.
With so much time left on the clock, it always felt a gargantuan task for South Africa to hold on, but they proved to be the architects of their own downfall in conceding the equaliser. Lebohang Ramalepe made a hash of her clearance and a combination of her miscue and Fridolina Rolfö’s endeavour saw the ball squirm into the bottom corner. Perhaps accepting their fate after conceding, South Africa’s defence receded even further, setting up a nervy final 20 minutes for Banyana Banyana.
South Africa were unable to ride out those moments though, as they missed the chance to secure a first-ever WWC point in the dying moments. Amanda Ilestedt was the woman on hand to break South African hearts, heading home from Kosovare Asllani’s corner to secure Sweden the points as they bid to improve on their third-place finish in 2019.
Player of the Match: Amanda Ilestedt (Sweden)