Sweden holds off England comeback to claim third place (video)

AP Photo/Claude Paris
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After suffering heartbreak at the hands of the Netherlands in the semifinals, Sweden finished their run at the 2019 Women’s World Cup with a 2-1 victory over England in the third-place game in Nice, France, on Saturday.

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Sweden jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before England appeared to realize they were facing an opponent who very badly wanted to finish third. By that time, Sweden had hunkered down and it was too late.

Kosovare Asllani opened the scoring in the 11th minute after Alex Greenwood failed to clear the ball in the box and touched it to no one near the penalty spot. Asllani hit her shot hard and low, with just enough pace to power through the outstretched hands of Carly Telford.

Sofia Jakobsson doubled the Swedes’ lead barely 10 minutes later, and this was the moment it became crystal clear that England were not yet up to full speed. Stina Blackstenius played simple ball to Jakobsson in acres of space down the left side of England’s penalty area. No one made an attempt to close her down, so she waltzed into the box before unleashing a screamer toward the far post.

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Once England awoke, they were quickly back in the game. Fran Kirby scored a spectacular solo goal in the 31st minute, weaving in and out and back in to set up an effortless finish, to cut the Three Lionesses’ deficit in half.

The comeback appeared complete just five minutes later, when Ellen White put the ball in the back of the net for the seventh eighth time, only to have her goal wiped off the board for the second time in as many games. She was deemed to have gained an advantage by touching the ball with her forearm during the build-up.

Nilla Fischer saved the day for Sweden with a last-gasp goal-line clearance in the 90th minute. Lucy Bronze had a look from close range, but Fischer put her body — and her head — on the line to preserve her side’s lead and help Sweden over the finish line.