Sweden have blunted Japan’s FIFA Women’s World Cup charge and won through to another semi-final with a 2-1 victory in Auckland.
Goalsneak defender Amanda Ilestedt was at it again, netting a first-half goal before Filippa Angeldal iced the victory with a second-half penalty.
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After Riko Ueki’s missed spot kick, Japan did score a late consolation, with Honoka Hayashi racing onto a failed block with three minutes remaining.
That goal ended Sweden’s run without conceding at 381 minutes.
However, after surviving 10 minutes of added time, the Europeans won the bigger prize: a semi-final against Spain back in Auckland on Tuesday night.
The result means the last remaining World Cup winner has been eliminated, and a first-time winner will be crowned in Sydney on August 20.
Until Friday night, world No.11 Japan looked a strong chance to repeat their 2011 glory, as the only side to have won all four of their matches in 90 minutes.
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Filippa Angeldal scored a penalty in Sweden’s 2-1 World Cup quarter-final win over Japan. (Brett Phibbs/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
Instead, Sweden ended their campaign with a relentless press, harassing Japanese defenders into submission.
Nadeshiko couldn’t manage a shot for the opening hour, by which time the Swedes had put the game to bed.
The opener came on the half-hour mark, with Japan failing to clear four blocked or deflected shots, allowing Ilestedt to steal in and smash home from close range.
The Arsenal defender’s goal puts her in the frame for an unlikely golden boot.
Ilestedt now has four goals, following her three group stage headers, and has only Hinata Miyazawa, now eliminated from the tournament, above her on five.
Sweden continued their assault and were denied a healthier margin by a pair of sensational saves from Ayaka Yamashita.
Before the break, she did enough to tip Kosovare Asllani’s volley onto the post, which ricocheted off the inside of the post and clear.
Yamashita was at full stretch to deny Johanna Rytting Kaneryd’s effort early in the second half.
From that corner kick, the world No.3 grabbed their eventual winner, with Fuka Nagano unsighted and handballing, allowing Angeldahl to score her penalty.
Sweden received a penalty after a handball was reviewed. Credit: Channel 7
Japan eventually came alive as Swedish legs — after 120 brutal minutes against the US in their round-of-16 clash — tired.
A feather-touch tackle by Sweden’s Madelen Janogy on Ueki brought the Japanese No.9 to the spot, only for her to thrash her penalty onto the bar.
Aoba Fujino then came extraordinarily close with a free kick that deceived Zecira Musovic, clattering off the bar and onto the goalkeeper’s head before bouncing clear.
As Musovic called for treatment, play resumed and Japan finally took a chance with Hayashi scoring an easy goal when an attempted clearance stopped the ball dead just five metres from goal.
There would be no equaliser, meaning Sweden have now made the last four in three of the last four tournaments.
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