It wasn’t the redemptive ending co-host Australia was hoping for in Brisbane tonight as Sweden won the match 2-0 and would bring home the bronze medals for the second consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Big Story: If you want to win games, you have to score goals. At the end of the day, Sweden was able to finish their chances when Australia did not. Maybe the VAR call that led to the penalty is controversial, but Sweden was able to score again in the run of play. For Sweden, it’s another ‘always a bridesmaid’ moment, but they certainly do know how to win a third place match. Australia’s tournament didn’t finish the way they would’ve wanted, but it still was a historic run that will forever change women’s soccer in Australia.
The Big Moment: In the 27th minute, Australia’s Clare Hunt accidentally caught Stina Blackstenius’s back foot in the box. After a VAR check, Sweden was awarded a penalty kick. Fridolina Rolfö took the penalty and was able to place it in the side netting to give Sweden the lead.
What does it mean: Both squads came out with the same starting lineups on the pitch as they had in their respective semifinal matchups. This included Australian defender Alanna Kennedy not being available for the match due to showing delayed concussion symptoms. It had been evident in the Matildas semifinal loss to England how pivotal of a piece she played in both defense and in building the attack. After a Sweden shot in the first minute forced Mackenzie Arnold to make a save early, Sweden maintained a very high possession. But Australia proved more dangerous on counterattacks until Sweden took the lead on the penalty kick. By the end of the first half, both goalkeepers had three saves and both teams had roughly the same amount of shots.
With five fouls a piece, a slight scuffle between Kosovare Asllani and Katrina Gorry, and a big collision at the end of the stoppage between Asllani and Caitlin Foord, tired legs and the last month of games was about to open up play in the second half.
Shortly after an Australian double sub to bring in fresh legs, Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani got her first goal of the 2023 World Cup doubling the Swedish lead while Australia still looked for their first shot of the second half. Australia wouldn’t find a shot in the second half until the 70th minute.
The Matildas kept pushing until the end, but just couldn’t get past the Swedish defense and get quality shots on frame. Racing Louisville’s Alex Chidiac was one of Australia’s four second-half subs, but even the fresh legs did not make enough of a difference to change the scoreline.