Sweden is warming up well. First European champions in England in 1984, the pre-tournament favorites held on to their best group performance until the last to plunder Portugal and secure top spot in Group C on goal difference with the Netherlands -Down. Belgium, Italy or Iceland are waiting for you in the next round and Peter Gerhardsson’s team won’t be afraid of anyone.
Portugal grew and entertained in this competition and well deserved their victory lap after the final whistle, but failed to respond to Sweden’s power, movement and edge in the final. a sweltering evening at Leigh.
Sweden have reached the quarter-finals or better in each of their 11 Euro appearances and will be confident of maintaining that impressive record on that evidence. “We are very strong and it is difficult to play against us,” said Gerhardsson.
“I think Game 3 was a factor that worked to our advantage. It meant that Portugal didn’t have as much time to organize themselves properly to attack us. I’m happy that we won the match and also that we won 5-0 to win the group.
Sweden initially didn’t show their level as the world’s second-ranked team, the contest was too riddled with mistakes for that, but improved throughout and were comfortably on their way to winning the group at the end. half time. A bad omen for their rivals. He was still asking a lot of Portugal to produce an upset and qualify but the defeating way of coach Francisco Neto remained none the less.
Neto had spoken of Portugal needing to improve their set-piece defense after Wednesday’s loss to the Dutch and changed goalkeepers in response to Inês Pereira’s problems in the 3-2 loss. Her replacement, Patrícia Morais, failed to improve and was twice found wanting from corners that put the Swedes to a three-goal lead in the interval.
“We defended Sweden well in possession of the ball,” said the Portugal coach, who described his change of goalkeeper as “strategic”. “But at this level, every detail counts and it was very difficult for us to stop Sweden’s set pieces. This is something we need to improve.
Sweden started well with Kosovare Asllani captaining the side in the absence of injured Caroline Seger, who unsuccessfully claimed a first-minute penalty after a solid but clean challenge from Ana Borges. Portugal’s most capped player has also proven to be one of its most versatile. She led the attack against the Netherlands and started at left-back before switching to right-back after Catarina Amado was stretched out with a foot injury following a dangerous foul from Johanna Rytting Kaneryd. Amado would leave the stadium on crutches.
Morais saved well from Johanna Rytting Kaneryd when the winger was played by Filippa Angeldal. The goalkeeper’s next involvement was less convincing. When Jonna Andersson’s corner landed in the penalty area, Morais connected with both fists but failed to distance himself on the punch. The clearance fell to Angeldal, who made no errors from 12 yards out. It was Sweden’s first goal from a set piece at the tournament, but the fourth Portugal had scored from six in total. A fifth would arrive at the stroke of half-time.
Stina Blackstenius thought she had doubled Sweden’s lead in style with a convincing finish from Asllani’s backheel but was ruled offside. The second came from smarter play by Asllani who, after being fouled near the boundary line by Jessica Silva, steered the resulting free kick away from a crowded penalty area and on the way of Angeldal. A ghost without a mark, the central swept his second goal into the far corner.
A refreshing break in the sweltering heat and a procession of injured led to a seven-minute stoppage in the first half. That was enough time for Sweden to exploit Portugal’s set-piece vulnerabilities again. Morais remained fixed on her line when Andersson kicked in another corner from the right. Amid the uncertainty, the ball hit Portuguese centre-half Carole Costa and tipped over the line.
Portugal have never threatened to repeat their comeback against Switzerland or the Netherlands, the powerful Swedish defense containing the dangerous Diana Silva and Francisca Nazareth. Gerhardsson’s side made it four from a penalty when Diana Gomes was penalized for the handball. The excellent Asllani netted the goal his performance deserved with a precise kick into the left corner from Morais.
The unfortunate Blackstenius converted a fifth with a looping header but a lengthy VAR review and another offside decision denied it for the second time. She superbly vented her frustration in stoppage time by creating space inside the box for an unstoppable right-footed finish into the top corner. Sweden crossed.
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