Games

Sweden crush Italy 5-0 to reach knockout stage in FIFA Women’s World Cup

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Despite Italys early pressure, Sweden gradually found their rhythm, and Ilestedts first goal opened the floodgates for their attacking prowess — AFP/Files
Despite Italy’s early pressure, Sweden gradually found their rhythm, and Ilestedt’s first goal opened the floodgates for their attacking prowess — AFP/Files

Sweden showcased their prowess with a remarkable three-goal surge just before halftime, leading them to a resounding 5-0 triumph over Italy, not only booking a berth in the FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout stage but also allowing them the luxury of a match to spare.

Amanda Ilestedt was the star of the show, scoring two goals in quick succession. Her first came in the 39th minute when she skillfully headed home to Jonna Andersson’s corner. The floodgates then opened as Fridolina Rolfo and Stina Blackstenius added to the tally within seven minutes, leaving Italy reeling.

Ilestedt continued her exceptional form shortly after halftime, netting her third goal of the tournament. The rout was complete in stoppage time when substitute Rebecka Blomqvist confidently sealed the victory.

Italy started the match with possession dominance, but they struggled to cope with Sweden’s aerial threat during corner kicks, ultimately suffering their worst defeat in a World Cup match, courtesy of the 2003 runners-up.

Despite Italy’s early pressure, Sweden gradually found their rhythm, and Ilestedt’s first goal opened the floodgates for their attacking prowess. Rolfo capitalised on another corner just five minutes later, cleverly flicking the ball into the net with her knee, leaving the Italian defence in disarray.

The third goal came in first-half stoppage time when Johanna Kaneryd made an impressive run down the right flank, delivering a precise cross to Blackstenius, who calmly finished from the middle.

Ilestedt replicated her earlier success in the 50th minute, scoring another header off a corner from Andersson, mirroring her first goal. Italy had their chances to pull one back, with Sofia Cantore missing opportunities in the 60th and 65th minutes, while Valentina Giacinti squandered a great opportunity in the 87th, sending her shot soaring over the bar from the centre of the box.

The final blow came in the dying moments of the match when Blomqvist outpaced the Italian defenders and expertly buried the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.

Although this defeat dealt a heavy blow to Italy’s confidence, they still have a chance to advance to the last 16 by avoiding defeat in their final Group G fixture against South Africa on Wednesday.

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