Three points for the Sweds, two balls to the face and a 5-1 score line means Sweden is the latest team to qualify for the Round of 16.
Following Thailand’s absolute paddling at the hands of the USWNT earlier in the week, eyes turned to their match with Sweden. Fuelled by pad thai (presumably) and a pep talk from ya gurl Carli Lloyd, Thailand had a point to prove against a Swedish team that has been unconvincing so far. Although Sweden bagged two late goals in their last game, their performance was shaky at best and they found it difficult to break down a tenacious Chile.
Spurred on by the opportunity to qualify with a win, Sweden started this game a lot stronger. It wouldn’t surprise me if they switched to WeetBix for breakfast cause they came out firing. Just six minutes in and Elin Rubensson delivered a peach of a free kick into the box to find Linda Sembrant waiting to head it home. It was all Sweden early on, constantly whipping balls in the box for fun and it’s not a sight you want to see if you’re a fan of the Chaba Kaew. It’s wasn’t long before Sweden doubled their lead as Lina Hurtig smashes a header towards goal, forcing Waraporn Boonsing to push it away. Kosovare Asllani somehow keeps the ball in and finds the back of the net from close range.
Thailand can’t seem to catch a break as Fridolina Rolfö makes it 3-0 in the 42 nd with a beautiful strike from the edge of the box. With no further goals in the first half, it’s déjà vu for Thailand who trailed 3-0 to USWNT at half time. However you can’t help but feel that the floodgates haven’t opened for Sweden just yet. Sure they are by far the more dominant team, but they’ve had a lot of opportunities on goal and just can’t seem to finish.
Just a sidenote here, the cameras keep focusing on a group of Swedish fans and what appears to be their ‘leader’ spearheading the Sweden chant. Let me just say that THEY HAVE NOTHING ON FATIMA FLORES. I would follow that woman from any pub to any stadium. The second half resumes and I’m not sure what happened during the Thai team talk but they are defending a lot better. They’re not stopping Sweden from dominating, but they certainly aren’t letting them score any goals. Boonsing is giving it everything in goal and is rewarded with a ball to the face from close range early in the second half.
Hurtig looks the most likely to score for Sweden in this half, even after she also takes ball to the face in the 58th. Her efforts are rewarded in the 81 st as she runs into the box to meet Magdalena Eriksson’s cross and heads it into the top corner.
As the match hits 90 mins Thailand are still pressing where they can and finally pull a goal back. There are tears of joy on the sidelines and on Twitter as captain Kanjana Sung-Ngoen makes the run in from behind Sweden’s defense, streaks towards goal and beats Hedvig Lindahl at her near post at 90+1. Their ecstasy was short lived as a VAR decision up the other end awarded Sweden a pen after Natthakarn Chinwong gets an arm to Hurtig’s header in the box. Rubensson steps up to take the pen and even though Boonsing goes the right way Sweden get their 5 th in 90+5.
Commiserations to Thailand, even though they’ve conceded 18 goals so far in this World Cup I’m thrilled they pulled one back. It feels like a win, even though it definitely wasn’t.
By Bree Reidy