Canada and Sweden reach the gold medal match after respective semi-finals.
For a team that have struggled to find their best form since landing in Japan for the Olympics, there was still a sense that the USA would find a way against Canada and reach the gold medal match. But it wasn’t to be for the team that spent the majority of the match politely knocking on Steph Labbé’s door, with the Canadian number one never opening it up for her southern neighbours.
With Alyssa Naeher having being forced off in the first half after injuring her knee, her replacement, AD Franch, had little to do until she was facing down Jessie Fleming after Canada had been awarded a VAR-reviewed penalty. Despite the gravity of the situation and with Janine Beckie and Christine Sinclair both having missed from the spot this tournament, Fleming dispatched a clinical effort that Franch couldn’t get near. With just 15 minutes left on the clock, the Canadian defence held firm, Labbé’s clean sheet confirming Canada’s first ever major tournament final.
With two matches against Sweden over the last two months in their locker, Australia had more than done their homework on the team that came from behind to beat them 4-2 in the group stage. The better team for the majority of the first half, Teagan Micah’s goal was seldom troubled save for a Fridolina Rolfö drive from range that left her crossbar quivering. Despite having the lion’s share of possession, the Matildas struggled to create much of note, other than when Sam Kerr connected with a free kick to send into the back of Hedvig Lindahl’s net after the whistle had gone.
A goal at the start of the second half could have put the match to bed for the Swedes when Filippa Angeldahl’s deflected ball into the box left Micah scrambling to tip the spinning sphere onto her bar. Landing in the net and unable to get to her feet in time, Micah could only grab at the air after Stina Blackstenius had directed the ball at Rolfö for the rangy attacker to volley into the far side of the goal. The goal brought about a period of Swedish dominance in midfield with Australia forced to sit back until they rallied late but could do nothing to disrupt the scores.
The bad day moving from bad to worse for the Matildas when Ellie Carpenter was shown a straight red for a denial of a goal scoring opportunity, having hauled Lina Hurtig down deep, deep into stoppage time. As such, Carpenter will miss the bronze medal match against the USA on Thursday.