Sweden vs Australia secured third place at the 2023 Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 win over co-hosts Australia at Brisbane Stadium.
Goals in either half from Fridolina Rolfo and Kosovare Asllani sealed a deserved win for the Blagult, who nullified Australia and were in almost complete control against a Matildas side whose physical and mental fatigue caught up with them.
Both sides surprisingly named unchanged lineups for a match that usually sees heavy rotation, but that seemed a poor decision from Australia coach Tony Gustavsson, whose team looked sluggish and off the pace from the get go, Sweden having their first chance through Stina Blackstenius after two minutes.
Hayley Raso had Australia’s best chance when she forced Zecira Musovic into a smart stop at her near post, but a controversial VAR review then gave Sweden a penalty after Clare Hunt — who had an otherwise excellent game — was adjudged to have fouled Blackstenius.
Rolfo stepped up from the spot and buried the penalty, giving Sweden a deserved lead during a half in which Australia struggled to impose themselves. Sweden vs Australia
Despite the team clearly needing changes, Gustavsson waited until the hour mark to do so. Two minutes later, Sweden doubled their lead through a clinical counter attack that led to Asllani firing a brilliant strike past Mackenzie Arnold. Sweden vs Australia
Sweden were able to see out the game comfortably and claim third at a World Cup for a fourth time as Australia unsuccessfully resorted to long balls and crosses in their attempts to find a route into the game.
Sweden starting lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Musovic (GK) — 2. Andersson, 13. Ilestedt, 6. Eriksson, 14. Bjorn — 16. Angeldal, 23. Rubensson — 19. Kaneryd (Sembrant 89′), 9. Asllani (Hurtig 67′), 18. Rolfo — 11. Blackstenius (Blomqvist 67′)
Australia starting lineup (4-4-2): 18. Arnold (GK) — 21. Carpenter (Nevin 74′), 15. Hunt, 4. Polkinghorne (Chidiac 74′), 7. Catley — 16. Raso (Vine 60′), 19. Gorry (van Egmond 60′), 23. Cooney-Cross, 9. Foord — 11. Fowler — 20. Kerr
Fatigue catches up with Australia at the World Cup.
It has been an at-times exhilarating home World Cup for Australia, taking the country on a wild ride that included a record of up to 17 million people around the country watching their 3-1 semifinal defeat to England.
Their players produced a herculean effort to get there, and with Gustavsson choosing to use a small group of players for extended minutes, tiredness got the best of them in Brisbane.
The signs had been there against the Lionesses but Gustavsson kept the same team once again – a plan that backfired as passes went astray, touches were heavier than normal and Australia were overrun by a Sweden side who appeared to carry an extra step in their stride. Sweden vs Australia
The likes of Katrina Gorry and Ellie Carpenter probably shouldn’t have started and really should have been removed at halftime, instead of on 60 minutes and 74 minutes respectively.
Sweden captain Asllani rolls back the years
She hasn’t always been the standout player for Sweden at the World Cup but skipper Kosovare Asllani turned back the clock with a vintage performance at both ends of the pitch.
Defensively she proved a constant source of problems for a tired Katrina Gorry, marking and hassling the midfielder to limit her effectiveness and, in turn, hinder Australia’s game. Sweden vs Australia
From an attacking angle, Asllani was involved in everything: controlling the tempo, moving the Australians around and scoring brilliantly from long range after fine buildup play.
Her time has been managed more than others at this tournament and she was used to full strength against a flagging Matildas team.
Australia can take pride in Women’s World Cup results.
This was a tough way to end what has been a successful tournament for Australia, who united a nation and created some of the greatest moments in football history in the country. Sweden vs Australia
Their wins over Canada, Denmark and France saw scenes of wild jubilation Down Under in a country where football is not the dominant code, and will hopefully prompt politicians to support the game more at all levels.