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Blackstenius stars as Sweden stun USA in Tokyo Olympics opener

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The U.S. Women’s National Team dropped its first match of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics falling 3-0 to Sweden in an empty Tokyo Stadium. Despite a spirited defensive effort and some stellar saves from goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, Sweden broke through for the opening goal midway through the first half and added two more after the break to end the second-longest unbeaten streak of 73 in USWNT history at 44 games.

The U.S. returns to action on Saturday, July 24 for what is now a crucial second Group G match against New Zealand. Kick-off from Saitama, Japan, is set for 7:30 a.m. ET.

Sweden, which put in a tremendous overall performance, proved dangerous from the game’s opening kick, earning a number of good chances off set pieces, on the counter attack and from pressing the USA, but Naeher made a number of nice saves to keep things level. In the 25th minute, Sweden broke things open when forward Stina Blackstenius headed home a well-placed service from Sofia Jakobsson.

The U.S. responded almost immediately with a nice attacking combination from Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath, but Heath fired her shot wide after threatening near goal. Shortly after, left back Crystal Dunn made an impressive goal-saving tackle in the 30th minute on Jakobsson as she drove towards Naeher in the box.

Sweden held the advantage in corner kick opportunities for the entire evening, finishing with nine to the USA’s three, and converted one of their chances just after the break. Blackstenius netted her second of the night in the aftermath of a corner in the 54th minute.

The USWNT created number of chances down the stretch, with Lavelle launching a beautiful cross-field long ball for Carli Lloyd, who drove down the field but fired her shot off the foot of a retreating Sweden defender in the 61st. Perhaps the USA’s best chance of the night came 10 minutes later, when some great build-up got the ball to the forward Christen Press, but she hit the woodwork from close range.

Sweden’s Lina Hurtig scored its final goal in the 72nd minute to put a cap on the evening. Press had another chance in the first minute of stoppage time, but a nice save from Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl preserved the clean sheet.


USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 17-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (Capt.), 2-Crystal Dunn (12-Tierna Davidson, 80); 16-Rose Lavelle (6-Kristie Mewis, 80), 9-Lindsey Horan, 3-Samantha Mewis (8-Julie Ertz, 46); 7-Tobin Heath (15-Megan Rapinoe, 64), 13-Alex Morgan (10-Carli Lloyd, 46), 11-Christen Press

Substitutes not used: 18-Adrianna Franch, 14-Emily Sonnett

Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski

SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 4-Hanna Glas, 13-Amanda Ilestedt, 14-Nathalie Bjom, 2-Jonna Andersson (20-Julia Roddar, 88); 16-Filippa Angeldal (5-Hanna Bennison, 75), 9-Kosovare Asllani, 17-Caroline Seger (Capt); 10-Sofia Jakobsson (7-Madelen Janogy, 75), 11-Stina Blackstenius (8-Lina Hurtig, 63), 18-Fridolina Rolfö (15-Olivia Schough, 63)

Substitutes not used: 12-Jennifer Falk, 3-Emma Kullberg

Head coach: Peter Gerhardsson