Pre-tournament favourites Sweden secure top spot of Group C in style, easing past set piece strugglers Portugal.
Sweden have been tipped to make it far in this year’s Women’s Euro 2022 tournament, and after a couple of underwhelming performances, have made a real statement of intent to secure first position and a place in the Quarterfinals in emphatic fashion – a side who haven’t lost since March 2020.
Portugal came into this one needing a win, which would be only their second in their surprisingly short and recent European Championship history (which would be even shorter if not for the current Russian ban) considering their men’s team prevalence – a less experienced and more locally sourced squad, played until this point with ambition in the right fashion, but met their match today.
It didn’t take long for Sweden to find the breakthrough at the Leigh Sports Village in Greater Manchester in a fashion that would very much mark this game and Portugal’s tournament/nightmare – set pieces (Spoiler – four of five goals were scored in this manner).
Ines Pereira was replaced by Patricia Morais after a couple of underwhelming displays, however not much seemed to change after Patricia’s weak attempt at clearing the ball from a corner, together with poor defensive organisation from Francisco Neto’s side, resulted in 1-0 – Fillipa Angeldal reacting first and firing the ball into the back of the net.
Angeldal would grab a brace from the edge of the box after Kosovare Asllani’s free-kick cut back, before an unfortunate Carole Costa own goal 6 minutes later in the second half would only demonstrate Sweden’s professionalism, and a learning curve for Portugal – another goal as the result of a set piece.
4-0 would come from a Diana Gomes handball giving Sweden a penalty - Kosovare Asllani would add a goal to her earlier assist, the keeper went the right way, but the placement into the bottom corner was too precise. The captain leading by example.
Capping off a convincing statement victory would be Stina Blackstenius finally having a goal stand after two being ruled out, the only one not coming from a set piece in this encounter.
Portugal have certainly entertained despite being the second-lowest rated national in this year’s tournament, and Sweden have certainly restarted striking fear into those who may face them in the knockouts.
Sweden will discover their next opponents tomorrow, setting up a Quarter-Final encounter on Friday 22nd, also at the Leigh Sports Village in Greater Manchester.