In a surprising turn of events, Sweden defeated the United States 5-4 in a sudden-death penalty shootout during a Women’s World Cup match. This victory propelled Sweden into the quarterfinals of the tournament and marked the earliest-ever exit for the defending champion, the United States.
Despite the United States dominating the game for the first 90 minutes, they struggled to break through the strong defense of Swedish goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, who made several incredible saves to keep her team in the competition. The match remained deadlocked after extra time, leading to a tension-filled penalty shootout.
During the shootout, both teams experienced moments of success and struggle. Nathalie Bjorn of Sweden was the first to miss her penalty, followed by a miss from Megan Rapinoe of the United States. The USA then took the lead as Rebecka Blomqvist’s penalty was saved, but the advantage was short-lived as Sophia Smith missed for the USA. Kelley O’Hara’s attempt hit the post, leaving the outcome in the hands of Sweden’s Lina Hurtig, who successfully scored, with VAR confirming that her kick had crossed the line.
This surprising outcome eliminated the top-ranked sides in the tournament, following Germany’s earlier exit in the group stage. Sweden, now considered a strong contender, will face Japan in the quarterfinals. The defeat was a bitter blow for the United States and a notable end for Rapinoe, who announced her retirement at the end of the season.
The United States, a four-time champion, had high expectations for the tournament but struggled to find their form in the group stage. This early exit was seen as a major disappointment for a team that had consistently performed well in previous World Cups.
Throughout the match, Musovic’s exceptional goalkeeping played a crucial role in keeping Sweden in the game, making numerous vital saves, including in extra time, which ultimately led to the dramatic penalty shootout victory.
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