After watching Portugal capture Euro 2016 by winning only a single match in regular time, the fear here was that we were about to witness more of the same on the women’s side of the game. Sweden had ridden their luck to the gold medal match on the strength of two penalty shootout victories.
Against Germany, they came undone. The first forty-five minutes appeared to give strength to the notion that Sweden were destined to win gold, but Germany simply blew them away in the second half. A 67th minute Sweden goal wasn’t enough to overturn the lead Germany had built.
Sweden started the match strongly, playing like a team without any pressure on their shoulders. They won a couple early corners and kept Germany without the ball for long periods.
However, Germany quickly grew into the match. Germany registered the first two clear opportunities of the game. A wonderful cut-back pass resulted in an effort that flew wide of goal, and a perfectly weighted cross hung-up towards the far post was wastefully headed over.
SO close. #Rio2016 #Football pic.twitter.com/dYPLnWKTKn— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 19, 2016
Sweden earned six corner kicks but couldn’t trouble Germany with any of them. Their best chance resulted in a side-footed shot that somehow went backwards. The halftime whistle announced the end of a scoreless half, but it certainly seemed as though we’d see a goal or two in the second half.
24' what a miss by Anja Mittag ! #SWEvGER pic.twitter.com/dgHABxUSdh— Women Soccer Lovers™ (@WomenSoccer24) August 19, 2016
That goal arrived shortly after the restart. A cross into the Sweden box wasn’t entirely dealt with, the ball falling to Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan at the top of the 18. With two Sweden defenders charging out to close her down, Marozsan sent a beautiful curling effort through the defenders, beyond the despairing hands of goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl and into the upper right-hand corner.
Marozsan puts #GER ahead of #SWE with a beautiful floating strike. 0-1 early in 2nd half. #Olympics #football pic.twitter.com/W4KyjwrVyh— FourFourTwo USA (@FourFourTwoUSA) August 19, 2016
Pia Sundhage’s side hadn’t trailed at any point during this competition’s knockout rounds and she responded by throwing on Stina Blackstenius, the goalscorer against the USWNT, in the 55th minute.
Germany increased their lead in the 62nd minute. A wonderfully struck German free kick crashed off the post, but the rebound came straight at Sweden defender Linda Sembrant at pace.
Her attempted clearance cannoned off her shin and into the back of her own net. At 2-0 up with over an hour gone, the gold appeared to be Germany’s. They continued to attack with abandon, playing some spectacular stuff but they were punished for their intent.
Sweden launched an attack of their own and, with 67 minutes played, cut the lead to 2-1. The move was finished by Blackstenius, and we were setup for a fascinating final 20 minutes.
Germany continued to attack and came close to grabbing their third on multiple occasions. The game became incredibly frantic as Sweden pushed for an equalizer and Germany exploited the space they left behind.
Towards the 80th minute, Germany began to possess the ball and play Sweden out of the match. They continued to get forward and Sweden had two great chances to equalize.
However, Sweden's hoped for moment of inspiration to send the match into extra time never arrived.
Germany finally won the Olympic gold that they’ve so desperately craved, and they now have the chance to sweep the competition with the men in action against Brazil on Saturday.
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