The defending Women’s World Cup champions USA have been knocked out by the barest of margins in the round of 16 by Sweden on penalties.
After a nail-biting match, it was Sweden who clinched the win with a thrilling penalty shootout victory at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Sunday night and progressed.
USA have featured in the past three finals and have won the tournament four times. The two-time champions were striving to achieve a historic third consecutive world title.
This defeat for the USA makes it their earliest exit in the tournament’s history.
Post-match, USA forward Megan Rapinoe was devastated with the final result, ultimately ending her World Cup career.
“I mean, this is like a sick joke. For me personally, this is like dark comedy that I missed a penalty,” she said.
“This is the balance to the beautiful side of the game. I think it can be cruel.”
Despite USA dominating the game with 11 shots on target, Sweden’s goalkeeper Zećira Mušović was able to stop everything that came her way.
She was named Player of the Match for her performance.
Sweden’s coach Peter Gerhardsson praised Mušović’s performance and said how it could have psyched out USA in the penalty shootout.
“She was good in the game. Even if she didn’t save any penalties,” he said.
“I think for the other team, maybe they put it outside because they know that if it’s not a good penalty, maybe she takes it.”
Sweden now moves on to the quarterfinals to play Japan, who beat Norway 3-1 on Saturday night.
The match will be played this Friday night at Eden Park Outer Oval, where Sweden will be fighting to keep their World Cup hopes alive and win their first major global tournament.
Photo: Megan Rapinoe by Lorie Shaull available HERE and used under a Creative Commons license. This image has not been modified.