United States' Christen Press reacts as Sweden's players celebrate their third goal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
United States' Christen Press reacts as Sweden's players celebrate their third goal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Image Credit: AP

Four-time Olympic champions United States suffered a first defeat in 45 matches on Wednesday as they were stunned 3-0 by Sweden in their opening game of the women’s football tournament in Tokyo.

Stina Blackstenius scored twice and Lina Hurtig added a third goal to give 2016 silver medallists Sweden a dream start to their Group G campaign at a Tokyo Stadium devoid of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The US, who go on to play New Zealand and Australia in their next two group games, hadn’t lost since going down 3-1 to France in a friendly in January 2019.

It was just the second loss over 90 minutes for the US at the Olympics. They were beaten in their first game of the 2008 tournament but still went on to win gold in Beijing.

Sweden shattered US hopes in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out in Rio five years ago, a bitter exit that served as a driving force behind the Americans’ run to a fourth World Cup title in 2019.

US captain Becky Sauerbrunn called the loss in Brazil “one of the worst results” the national team has had at an international tournament.

The US had won 22 of 23 games since Vlatko Andonovski replaced Jill Ellis as coach in October 2019, with a 1-1 draw against the Swedes in April the only blemish.

Andonovski selected 17 of the players from the World Cup-winning squad for his first major tournament, but he elected to start Megan Rapinoe on the bench as Tobin Heath appeared at her fourth Olympics.

Sweden, who reached the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, threatened early and often in a first half where they completely dominated a surprisingly subdued US.

Sweden grabbed a deserved lead on 25 minutes when Blackstenius beat Abby Dahlkemper to Sofia Jakobsson’s cross to steer in a glancing header.

Rose Lavelle, one of stars of the 2019 World Cup, headed against the post at the end of the first half — a crucial miss as Sweden made it 2-0 soon after the break. Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz came on at half-time for Alex Morgan and Sam Mewis, but the US fell further behind when Blackstenius stabbed into the roof of the net after Amanda Ilestedt’s header bounced back off the upright.

Rapinoe replaced Heath for the final half-hour and nearly set up Christen Press to pull a goal back, the former Manchester United player hitting the post with the goal at her mercy.

Sweden ensured there would be no way back for the US as substitute Hurtig rose to nod in a Hanna Glas delivery with 18 minutes left to condemn the Americans to a humbling defeat.

Brazil's Marta celebrates scoring their third goal
Brazil's Marta celebrates scoring their third goal Image Credit: Reuters

Earlier, Marta became the first player to score in five straight Olympics as Brazil thumped China 5-0.

Marta finished with a brace for Brazil, who are ranked No. 7 in the world. Debinha, Andressa Alves and Beatriz also scored.

A six-time Fifa Player of the Year, Marta has 111 international goals, more than any Brazilian player, male or female. After her goal in the ninth minute, Debinha added another in the 22nd to put Brazil up 2-0. Marta added her second goal in the 74th minute before Alves scored from the penalty spot. Beatriz closed out the rout with a goal in the 89th.

Team GB got off to a convincing start as they defeated Chile 2-0. Great Britain eased to victory at the Sapporo Dome with Manchester City forward Ellen White scoring twice, including the first goal at the Games.

Britain took the lead in the first half through a flowing move when Lucy Bronze delivered a cross to the far post and Lauren Hemp headed it back in front of goal for White to prod home from close range.

Britain dominated proceedings with the lion’s share of possession but found it difficult to break through Chile’s dogged defence.

However, White doubled the lead in the 73rd minute after she combined with Bronze to score from a cross with a scissor-kick.