LYON, France (AP) — Sweden’s World Cup title bid was ended by one-touch Dutch magic.
It only took a few seconds for the Netherlands to carve Sweden open from midfield to the edge of the penalty area, where Jackie Groenen advanced to hit a superb low shot past goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
She was powerless to stop Groenen’s effort after having made excellent saves to tip Netherlands top scorer Vivianne Miedema’s looping header onto the crossbar and likewise push over an effort from Shanice Van de Sanden in the second half.
Lindahl was furious at the final whistle, ripping off her gloves and throwing them violently to the floor.
Then she aimed a kick at one of them, sending it flying.
Sweden needed to do more than rely on its goalkeeper. The forwards didn’t have enough impact, especially considering Sweden’s best effort came when veteran defender Nilla Fischer’s shot was pushed onto the post by goalie Sari van Veenendaal.
There simply wasn’t enough creativity from coach Peter Gerhardsson’s side.
While Sweden center forward Stina Blackstenius’ hold-up play and excellent ability to turn both ways caused the Dutch backline problems, it also meant she was rarely in the penalty box and her teammates could rarely find her. Blackstenius came off in the second half of extra time.
Sweden’s lack of cutting edge was summed up near the end of injury time, when attacking midfielder Kosovare Asllani found some space on the left and clipped an inviting cross over the defense.
The Dutch fans, watching nervously from the other end of the field, held their breath as the ball sailed toward the unmarked back post. But there was no one there to take advantage of it.
Sweden’s players formed a circle following the game to console each other after missing out on a second World Cup final. Sweden lost to Germany in 2003.