‘Got our asses kicked’: Sweden HAMMER US women’s team in ‘grudge match’ Olympic opener to end Americans’ 44-game unbeaten streak
The US headed into this year’s delayed Games boasting much of the squad which claimed World Cup glory in France in 2019, with the likes of Alex Morgan starting against Sweden and social justice soccer queen Megan Rapinoe on the substitutes’ bench.
The Americans were also out for revenge after being knocked out by the Swedes on penalties in the quarter-finals of the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But in front of empty stands at the Tokyo Stadium, it was the Swedes who ran riot in the opening game in Group G.
Blackstenius opened the scoring in the 25th minute when she glanced a header across goal and into the net from a Sofia Jakobsson cross.
🇸🇪 Merecía el gol Suecia, dominio, generando numerosas ocasiones y exigiendo constantemente intervenir a Naeher. USA ha tenido 2, pero ha estado desaparecida y sufriendo en defensa.Asiste Jakobsson (somos muy team Sofia) y marca Blackstenius. #Tokyo2020pic.twitter.com/h1oMaxZjKL— Chantal Reyes (@cchantalreyes) July 21, 2021
The 25-year-old forward was on target again in the 54th minute when the US failed to deal with a corner, allowing Amanda Ilestedt to head onto the post before Blackstenius turned in the rebound.
The rout was complete when Juventus star Hurtig headed home a cross from Hanna Glas inside the last 20 minutes.
The US struck the post through Rose Lavelle and Christen Press, but it was a resounding win for the Swedes which snapped a remarkable 44-game unbeaten run for their American rivals.
Online, fans and pundits were shocked by the ease with which four-time gold medalists the US had been swept aside.
Some suggested the Swedes had taught their widely vaunted rivals a "football lesson" as others said Vlatko Andonovski's team had been "torn apart."
This is an UNREAL performance from Sweden. I have never ever seen USA struggle against a team this much. When they’ve lost in the past it’s been matches on a knife edge but Sweden are flying right now. What a statement of intent! #SWEUSA— Lydia Smith (@LydSmiz) July 21, 2021
Never stressed, dominated from beginning to end. People talking about USA being favorites but I can’t see that. Sweden we are feasting man, no soccer here, a football lesson #Tokyo2020— Siavoush Fallahi (@SiavoushF) July 21, 2021
Sweden finish 3-0 winners, utterly deserved, could have been four or five even if US twice hit post from rare attacks. Stunning result which blows women's Olympic tournament wide open. US should still make QFs, but their aura is broken— Glenn Moore (@GlennMoore7) July 21, 2021
The meeting had been billed as a “grudge match” by some in the US press beforehand, given that the Americans had been dumped out of the Games five years ago in a shootout by the Swedes – following a 1-1 draw in which Blackstenius had also scored.
The Swedes and US are familiar foes at major tournaments, having met six times at past World Cups and playing out a third encounter at the Olympics with their match in Tokyo.
After the grueling defeat, US star Rapinoe admitted that this time her team had been soundly beaten.
"We got our asses kicked, didn’t we?" Rapinoe said.
"I think we were a little tight, just a little nervous. Just doing dumb stuff like not passing the ball, not tapping the ball."
"I don't think we played a very good game and that's to take nothing away from Sweden, I think they played a great game,” added the 36-year-old at her post-match press conference.
"They found a lot of space in our shape and were able to be very clinical when they got in for the goal and did very well taking their chances. Sometimes I feel like, if ever we lose or tie or anyone gives us a game, it's unbelievable and that's really kind of offensive to every other team.
"This is the highest level and these are the best teams in the world, Sweden being one of the best teams ever, certainly in Europe, so if we don't play well, game in, game out, we're not going to win these games.”
The US will now need to bounce back in their second group game against New Zealand on July 24, before taking on Australia in their final group match on Tuesday.
Sweden roll on to a meeting with Australia on Saturday before facing the Kiwis on July 27.