Sweden defeat Japan to qualify for World Cup semifinals

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The second quarterfinal game of the 2023 FIFA World Cup took place earlier today between Sweden and Japan. It was a matchup between the highest-scoring team and the best defensive side of the competition, and both teams came into the game looking to edge out the other for a chance to play in the semifinals.

Both teams had an excellent run on their path to the quarterfinals, as they both emerged as leaders of their groups at the end of the group stage games. In the round of 16, Sweden eliminated the defending champions, the USA, after defeating them on penalties following a goalless draw at the end of extra time. While Japan cruised through their round of 16 games, defeating Norway 3-1 in regulation time.

Up against a defensively astute team like Sweden, Japan failed to replicate the performances that saw them win all their group stage games as well as their round of 16 matches against Norway. Hence, Sweden dominated the majority of the first half and was rewarded for their performance with a goal from Amanda Ilestedt in the 32nd minute.

At the start of the second half, the game was a bit more balanced, with Japan slowly getting themselves back into the game, but Sweden got their second goal in the 51st minute when they were awarded a penalty. The ball from a Sweden corner struck the hand of a Japanese player inside the box, and after VAR intervention, the referee awarded the penalty.

Being two goals behind, Japan turned on the heat and started applying pressure and asking questions about Sweden’s defense. Their efforts were rewarded when substitute Honoka Hayashi scored in the 87th minute. The game looked set for a dramatic finish when the fourth official signaled that an additional ten minutes had been added at the end of regulation time. However, Sweden held on to their lead and eventually came out as 2-1 winners over Japan.

The game was played after Spain had defeated the Netherlands 2-1 earlier in the first quarterfinal game of the tournament. La Roja themselves didn’t have it easy, as it took them an additional 30 minutes of extra time to secure their semifinal spot. 

Hence, the date is set for a semifinal dance between Sweden and Spain, who made history by qualifying for the semis for the first time ever.

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