A run down of all the quarterfinal action at the Tokyo Olympic football tournament.
Canada 0-0 Brazil
Kicking off the matchday with a re-run of the bronze medal match from the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the two sides had undergone considerable change since the last time they were contesting a major tournament. With both nations leading into the more defensive side of the game and very little to separate the two over there last few outings, it was almost no surprise to see just how tight both kept things with a spot in the semi-finals on the line. After 90 minutes of football, there was nothing to separate the seventh and eighth ranked teams in the world, the next 30 minutes similarly bringing about no goals.
With Bárbara having saved Christine Sinclair’s weak spot kick, the early shoot-out advantage went the way of the South Americans with Marta dispatching her penalty with ease. Jessie Fleming got the Canucks rolling with her effort from 12-yards to be followed by Debinha, Ashley Lawrence, Érika and Adriana Leon. Like Sinclair before her, Andressa Alves stepped up and dispatched a weak effort that was well saved by the opposing goalkeeper, Stephanie Labbé squaring the shoot-out with the save. Having had a good showing in the defence, Vanessa Gilles powered her effort home to force Rafaelle’s hand; score or be eliminated. Following on from Andressa, the defender could only send a weak effort to Labbé’s left, the height a comfortable one for the shot-stopper who guessed right and sent her team through to yet another Olympic semi-final.
Great Britain 3-4 Australia
Despite the lion’s share of early pressure coming from Great Britain it was Australia who took the lead in Kashima when Alanna Kennedy got her head on Steph Catley’s floated corner. The goal gave the Matildas extra impetus and helped to solidify a previously leaky looking backline, ensuring the Aussies got to the break with their goal advantage intact. The restart saw the Brits amp up the pressure and before long, Ellen White had her first of the match, digging a header into the far side of Teagan Micah’s goal. Having been tighter in defence, the backline was caught ball-watching ten minutes later as White got away from her marker as the ball was pulled back to her in the box, the experienced striker able to pick out her spot with ease and give GB the lead.
Although both teams were on the hunt for the fourth goal of the match, the clash calmed itself down until the 89 minute when Sam Kerr brought down Emily Van Egmond’s ball over the top. Needing to set herself before pulling the trigger, the British defence found themselves rooted in place as she sent the ball home and took the match to extra time.
It could have been curtains for the Antipodeans when, 12 minutes into extra time, GB were awarded a penalty, but Micah was a match to Caroline Weir’s relatively tame effort. The save seeming all the more important when, less than two minutes later, Mary Fowler chanced her arm from just outside the area, the ball skimming off of Lucy Bronze’s knee, helping it arc away from Ellie Roebuck and into the top corner. The Matildas were in dream land when seconds into the second period of extra time, Kerr rose well to nod the ball against the underside of the bar, watching it bounce against the turf and into the hungry net.
There was yet still time for late drama when White wrapped up her hattrick with a neat header, but as the saying goes, that was all she wrote. The clock ran down for GB as Australia made their first ever major tournament semi-final.
Sweden 3-1 Japan
Early pressure told for Sweden when, in the seventh minute, Magda Eriksson got her head on Fridolina Rolfö’s recycled ball at a corner, the defender sending the ball well out of the reach of Ayaka Yamashita. It wasn’t to be the start of a romping sprint to the finish line for Sweden however and Japan soon found their feet in the match, putting together better periods of play and asking questions of the Europeans. The hosts restored parity when Mina Tanaka ghosted behind Amanda Ilestedt to connect with Yui Hasegawa’s swept ball, taking it off of her shin in mid-air and into the back of the net.
The two sides stayed locked on the scores until the start of the second half when Stina Blackstenius played just off of Risa Shimizu’s shoulder, staying level before springing in behind to pick up Rolfö’s through ball and tucking it inside Yamashita’s near post. Japan continued to probe for a second equaliser but where left emptyhanded when Narumi Miura conceded a VAR-awarded penalty for a handball. Kosovare Asllani clinical from 12-yards to extend the Swede’s lead and leave Nadeshiko heading out of their home Olympics and Sweden bound for a semi-final against Australia.
Close control from Vivianne Miedema in the box and a swept finish into the bottom corner was enough to give the Dutch the lead in the match with their first shot. The lead stood for ten minutes before Sam Mewis’s diving header evaded Sari van Veenendaal at her near post. Having been set up by Lynn Williams, Mewis returned the favour for her North Carolina teammate three minutes later, finding the striker with her nod on.
Needing a moment of inspiration, the Dutch did well to press the world champions and levelled the scores through Miedema just before the hour when the star striker eased the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box. With the two locked up and heading for extra time, the current European champions were given a chance to snatch victory when they were awarded a penalty. Yet, as was the theme of the day, Lieke Martens’ spot kick was a weak effort at a comfortable hight and distance for Alyssa Naeher. Extra time came and went with both teams coming close but neither finding a winner, forcing the second quarterfinal of the day to penalties.
Having already saved a penalty in the match, Naeher came up trumps at the start of the shoot out when she denied Miedema. Rose Lavelle hammered home the US’s advantage before Dominque Janssen got the Dutch going with their second kick, the advantage kept by Alex Morgan. A sigh of relief beathed by Stefanie van der Gragt as her strike cannoned off of the upright, shooting across the face of goal and landing inside the net on the opposite side of the goal.
Christen Press responded with a driven effort before Naeher once again denied a Dutch player from 12-yards as she kept Aniek Nouwen out. With three clinical spot kicks in the bank already in the shoot-out, Megan Rapinoe stepped up and blasted her penalty into the top corner, emphatically punching the US’s ticket for the semi-final where they’ll meet Canada.