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Sweden stuns South Africa 2-1 in Women World Cup clash

Sweden stuns South Africa 2-1 in Women World Cup clash

Sweden stuns South Africa 2-1 in Women World Cup clash

Sweden stuns South Africa 2-1 in Women World Cup clash

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  • Sweden defeated South Africa 2-1 in the Women World Cup encounter.
  • Sweden now leads the group, with Italy and Argentina set to play next.
  • South Africa seeking their first-ever World Cup victory.
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In their Women’s World Cup Group G encounter on Sunday, Sweden defeated South Africa 2-1 thanks to Amanda Ilestedt’s 90th-minute winner after Fridolina Rolfo’s fortunate equalizer had erased Hildah Magaia’s first-half goal.

The lanky Ilestedt jumped highest and squeaked the ball home in the pouring rain in the capital of New Zealand to save her team’s face after they were frustrated by the African champions for a large portion of the first hour of the game.

The third-ranked Swedes now lead their group after the outcome, and Italy and Argentina will play their first game in Auckland on Monday.

“South Africa made it hard for us, but I think we grew into the game and got better and better. In the second half we played better, but a victory in the opening game is what counts,” Ilestedt said.

South Africa, ranked 54th, sought their first-ever World Cup victory in their second appearance at the tournament, having previously exited the group stage in 2019 without securing a point.

In the first half, South Africa successfully held off the favored Sweden team, frustrating their opponents who dominated possession but couldn’t convert their chances. South Africa, on the other hand, threatened on the counter-attack.

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Captain Refiloe Jane attempted a brilliant long-range shot that went over the crossbar, while Sweden struggled to create clear scoring opportunities. The only save from the goalkeeper in the first half came from Filippa Angeldal’s tame effort.

Early in the second half, South Africa’s Magaia scored their second-ever World Cup goal, pouncing on a rebound after Zecira Musovic parried away Thembi Kgatlana’s shot, beating Sweden’s defender Jonna Andersson to the ball.

In the 66th minute, Sweden received a lifeline when Johanna Rytting Kaneryd’s cross deflected off defender Lebohang Ramalepe and found the net off Rolfo.

Sweden pushed hard for a winning goal but was thwarted by South Africa’s determined defense. However, Ilestedt’s strong header from Kosovare Asllani’s corner eventually secured a late winner for Sweden.

“We’re so used to being in such situations where things don’t work, (and thinking about) what are we going to do,” Gerhardsson said.

“It’s no coincidence that we decided the match on a set piece, it’s no coincidence because that’s what we practice a lot.”

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After South Africa plays Argentina in Dunedin on Friday, Sweden will play Italy in Wellington on Saturday. Desiree Ellis, the South Africa coach, said there were many positives to take away from their opening game.

“We knew that they were going to be a challenge at set pieces and I thought we handled that really well,” Ellis said. “Even though it was a loss, we’re very proud of the way we played.

“We have the speed and skill up front, we have the skill in midfield and defensively we were really good. That is a big plus for us.”

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