Sweden eliminate USA following dramatic penalty shootout

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The defending champions, the USA, were eliminated from the 2023 FIFA World Cup in the round of 16 when they faced Sweden. The USA team, whose performance in the World Cup has been subject to criticism from fans and even former players, was knocked out of the tournament after losing to Sweden on penalties.

While the loss came as a shock to many considering the nation’s history as a huge force to be reckoned with in women’s football, it was quite expected for some fans after their poor performance in the group stage.

Sweden, who qualified for the round of 16 as winners of Group G, were pitted against the four-time World Champions, the USA, who finished second in Group D, for a round of 16 clash. A fixture that happened to be the sixth consecutive meeting of both nations in the World Cup since 2003.

The much-anticipated round of 16 fixture ended in a goalless draw at the end of regulation time, hence forcing both teams to play an additional 30 minutes to break the tie and decide who would go through to the quarterfinals. However, the failure of both teams to break the deadlock at the end of extra time led to a penalty shootout, where Sweden turned out to be the eventual winner with a scoreline of 5-4.

The penalty shootout saw both teams miss their penalty kicks, with big names like Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith putting their spot kicks off target. Sweden won thanks to the intervention of goal-line technology, which captured the ball crossing the line by mere millimeters following a save by the USA goalkeeper.

Goal Line Technology Image shows ball over the line
(PHOTO: fifa.com)

Barcelona Femeni player Fridolina Rolfo, who is also a Swedish international, played the entirety of the match. The left-back was given the responsibility of taking the first penalty kick for her team, and she slotted the ball into the back of the net with relative ease.

With their progress to the quarterfinals confirmed. Sweden will play against Japan, who also qualified for the quarterfinals following a 3-1 victory over Norway in their round-of-16 clash.

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