Stumbling at the penultimate hurdle is all too familiar for the Swedish Women’s National team.
They will have to get over a semifinal defeat and pick themselves up for a Fifa Women’s World Cup bronze medal match for the fourth time in their history after suffering a late 2-1 defeat to Spain at Eden Park on Tuesday night.
“[I] don’t really know what to say, [I] just [have] a lot of emotions right now,” defender Nathalie Björn said after the match.
“You know, after that game, [I’m] disappointed and empty, just, very empty.”
After a tight goalless affair for the first 80 minutes, with both team having chances to break the deadlock, extra-time loomed before a rollercoaster eight-minute spell.
Spain scored first in the 81st minute when teen Salma Paralluelo latched on to a loose ball in the box before the Swedes equalised seven minutes later through substitute Rebecka Blomqvist. It took just 60 seconds after that for La Roja to clinch the winner when Olga Carmona stood unmarked on the edge of the box on a corner, took one touch and sent the winner over Swedish goalie Zećira Mušović - off the crossbar and into the net.
Ironically for Sweden, the game-defining goal was conceded through a Spanish set piece – something that the Blue and Yellow proved throughout the tournament that they could be unmatched in.
Defender Magdalena Eriksson told the Herald there was hope after they scored that equaliser. “I think it was really strong how we, we turned the game around and put pressure on them.”
Björn said it felt amazing when they bounced back after being down a goal with little time left, however, felt their lack of focus for the full 90 minutes was what let her side down.
Eriksson, who has been key to Sweden’s organisation at the back, explained why she believes Spain was able to break them down.
“I think it was fine margins today. I think it was an even game. It was really tight.
“It wasn’t like any team had super momentum over the other,” said Eriksson.
“Of course, we need to do better on the corner..., I’m just really disappointed with that.”
Eriksson’s centre-back partner, Amanda Ilestedt said what she believed was the difference.
“Spain is a good, good team – they have the ball all the time.
“We had to work hard,” Ilestedt said.
The Arsenal and Swedish defender who scored four goals this tournament said after the match she felt “empty” to miss out on another final.
“We wanted this so bad. We have been in the semifinals before... we were close in a lot of big tournaments before.
“We are really upset and sad about that we couldn’t make it.”
Sweden will now await their third-fourth-place playoff opponents after Australia take on England in the other semifinal in Sydney tonight.
Bonnie Jansen is a Multimedia Journalist in the NZME Sports team. She’s a keen footballer and has worked with the Alternative Commentary Collective before joining the Te Rito cadetship scheme.