On Saturday, towering Swedish defender Amanda Ilestedt scored twice with her head to help her team defeat Italy 5-0 and advance to the round of 16 in the Women’s World Cup. Italy was eliminated from the tournament as a result of the loss.
Ilestedt, Fridolina Rolfo, and Stina Blackstenius scored for the third-ranked Swedes over a seven-minute stretch at the end of the first half, which resulted in the game being blown wide open after having been close for most of the first period.
Ilestedt, who plays center defense for Arsenal, scored her second goal shortly after the halftime break, giving her a total of three goals for the tournament (all of which came from headers off corners). One of those goals was the game-winning header in Arsenal’s opening 2-1 victory against South Africa.
In the last minute of stoppage time, replacement Rebecka Blomqvist completed the rout in front of roughly 30,000 people in Wellington.
The Swedes are certain to finish in either first or second place in Group G, making them the third side in the tournament to secure a spot in the knockout round after Spain and Japan.
It was a show of strength from one of the tournament’s favorites, who have a track record of coming close to winning the World Cup on several occasions.
Their ability to capitalize on set pieces was on full display, as Jonna Andersson was the provider of three of the goals, all of which came from left-footed, inswinging corners.
After having the upper hand for the most of the first half, sixteenth-ranked Italy headed into the break in a state of shellshock due to their inability to counter the aerial danger posed by Ilestedt in particular.
After starting the competition with a victory against Argentina by the score of 1-0, Italy’s participation in the tournament would come to an end if they are defeated by South Africa in their last group encounter on Wednesday.
On Friday, a score of 2-2 gave both South Africa and Argentina their first point of the tournament.
It was really Italy who got off to a strong start, as Sweden’s goalkeeper Zecira Musovic was pushed by two fast early shots from Italy’s Sofia Cantore. Cantore was the only player that Italy changed from their starting lineup.
However, the Swedes started to work well together, and the game changed in the 39th minute when the 1.78-meter Ilestedt sprang to flick Andersson’s perfect corner into the back of the net.
On July 29, 2023, in Wellington, Ilestedt (4R) is shown celebrating after scoring the opening goal for her squad. Photo by the AFP.
Rolfo, a prominent player for Barcelona who was questionable to play because of a knee injury, scored her second goal of the tournament after Italy failed to clear the ball from another corner.
After Johanna Kaneryd’s cross wasn’t cleared, Arsenal attacker Blackstenius made it three with a goal in the first-half stoppage time. Her goal came after she stabbed the ball home.
Ilestedt’s impressive jump allowed him to go past the defense of Le Azzure five minutes after the interval.
Blomqvist scored the fifth goal of the match in a one-on-one breakaway as Italy began to collapse.
On Wednesday, Sweden will play their last group game against Argentina in Hamilton. Sweden has now advanced to the knockout round in eight of its nine previous appearances at the World Cup.
After starting the same eleven players in both games, Head Coach Peter Gerhardsson could think about making some substitutions.