Paris: Stina Blackstenius scored the only goal of a cagey match as Sweden beat Canada 1-0 in Paris on Monday to reach the women’s World Cup quarter-finals.
The victory sets up a rematch of the 2016 Olympic final as the Swedes play Germany on Saturday in Rennes. Three years ago Germany won the gold with a 2-1 victory in Rio de Janeiro, though Blackstenius scored in that match.
Blackstenius scored the only goal in the 55th minute with a brave finish after a crisp Swedish counter-attack.
After that, the last-16 tie was once again a story of VAR. A review gave Canada a penalty, but Hedvig Lindahl, at full stretch, saved Janine Beckie’s driven spot-kick.
Then, referee Kate Jacewicz pointed to the spot after a foul by Ashley Lawrence, but the decision was over-ruled after VAR detected a Swedish offside in the build-up.
Both sides came into the knockout rounds after losing dead rubbers to finish second in their groups. Canada went down 2-1 to the Netherlands. Sweden fell 2-0 to the USA but rested a host of usual starters.
The Swedes made five changes for a match that kicked off with the temperature tickling 30 degrees Celsius.
Neither side managed a shot on target in the first half.
Christine Sinclair, chasing the all-time women’s international scoring record, had one shot, early in the second half, a 25-metre free-kick that curled gently wide.
Sweden took the lead on the counter.
Kosovare Asllani ran onto a long pass down the left, paused and then curled the ball behind centre-back Shelina Zadorsky and into the path of Blackstenius. The centre-forward hit the ball first-time from just inside the box and before being clattered by Zadorsky and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe. The shot looped off Labbe and into the net.
Canada responded with a burst of frenzied pressure and were rewarded on 68 minutes when Desiree Scott met a weak clearance from a corner with a volley that struck Asllani on the arm.
Manchester City’s Beckie drilled her penalty low to Lindahl’s right, but the Chelsea goalkeeper hurled herself across the goal to save.
Then VAR denied the Swedes a penalty.
Canada pressed desperately but the nearest either side came to a goal was when Scott cleared Asllani’s volley off the line after a Swedish corner.