WWCup Japan Sweden Soccer

Japan’s Hana Takahashi, center, attempts to head the ball between Sweden’s Filippa Angeldal, left, and Sofia Jakobsson during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal Friday in Auckland, New Zealand. Andrew Cornaga/Associated Press

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — After knocking off the United States, Sweden bounced Japan to snag a spot in the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup.

The Swedes eliminated previously unbeaten Japan in the quarterfinals, 2-1, which means this year’s World Cup will crown a first-time winner.

The sold-out crowd at Eden Park, where Sweden will play in the semifinals on Tuesday against Spain, danced to songs by Swedish rock band ABBA after the win.

Amanda Ilestedt scored a first-half goal and Filippa Angeldal converted a second-half penalty to send the Swedes to the semifinals for the fifth time.

“Obviously we were very happy with the win against the U.S., but we knew we had to recharge and think about Japan,” midfielder Kosovare Asllani said. “We knew we were going to play a very skilled and technical team, and we didn’t want them to have a lot of time on the ball, because that’s when they’re the best.”

Japan had been so prolific with 14 goals in rolling to a 4-0 tournament record, but the Japanese struggled for most of the game to keep up with the taller Swedish team. When Sweden went up 2-0 late in the second half, Japan seemed out of the tournament.


But Japan finally made a late surge and seriously pressured Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, who was fresh off a World Cup-record 11 saves in the win over the United States.

Riko Ueki’s penalty attempt for Japan in the 76th minute hit the crossbar and bounced clear of the goal, but Musovic was finally beaten in the 86th minute when substitute Honoka Hayashi’s penalty cut Sweden’s lead to 2-1.

That was all the Japanese mustered, however.

SPAIN 2, NETHERLANDS 1: Salma Paralluelo scored deep in extra time in Wellington, New Zealand, to give Spain a place in the semifinals for the first time.

The 19-year-old Paralluelo struck in the 111th minute of a tight knockout match, creating history for Spain and sending the 2019 World Cup runners-up out of the tournament.

“We have succeeded. We have fought until the end. We have believed,” Paralluelo said. “It was a unique moment, great euphoria to have lived through that.”


After starting in all of Spain’s previous matches at the tournament, this was her first entry from the bench.

She went on in the 71st and was heavily involved. After the Dutch missed two chances to take the lead in stoppage time, Paralluelo made her break down the left off a pass from Jenni Hermosa, swiveled to beat Aniek Nouwen, pivoted momentarily, and from a difficult angle launched a left-foot shot into the back of the net.

Coach Jorge Vilda described the win as “a great day for Spanish women’s football.”

“We’ve reached somewhere we’ve never reached before, and done it playing a good game as well, with a team that is convinced that we can go even further,” he said. “As you can see we are all celebrating. We continue to make history, (but) it was a game more difficult than it could have been.”

Netherlands defender Stefanie van der Gragt had turned from villain to hero in the last 10 minutes of regulation. She conceded a penalty for a hand ball in the 81st minute, which Mariona Caldentey converted to give Spain a 1-0 lead. Then, right at the start of stoppage time, she timed a run brilliantly from Victoria Pelova’s through ball and added a polished finish to level the score.

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