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Amanda Ilestedt goes from villain to hero in Sweden's last-gap win over South Africa

A last-gasp goal by Amanda Ilestedt allowed Sweden to defeat South Africa 2-1 in their opening match at the 2023 World Cup.

Despite the win, the fans and the press were far from satisfied with the team's performance, deeming it "a disaster." Many believed that Sweden, ranked third in the FIFA rankings, should have demonstrated their superiority more emphatically against South Africa, a team positioned only 54th in the world.

Sweden's struggles started in the 48th minute when Hilda Magaia punished a series of mistakes in the Swedish defense to put South Africa up on the scoreboard. Magaia tapped the ball into the net after capitalizing on a poor rebound from goalkeeper Zećira Mušović and seconds after Thembi Kgatlana destroyed Ilestedt's ankles.

Ilestedt clearly could have done better. 

Amanda Ilestedt goal: Sweden vs. South Africa

Eventually, Sweden came to life to avoid embarrassment. And the first punch came from one of their superstars, Fridolina Rolfö. 

Rolfö had been a ghost for much of the match, but in the 65th minute, luck was on her side: a poor clearance by defender Lebohang Ramalepe hit her knees before sneaking into the net.

It was scrappy, but it was enough to reinvigorate the Swedish cause. 

The Europeans soon were showing their power, but it was not until the 90th minute that they could hit again and secure the three points.

Ilestedt jumped higher than anybody on a corner kick and connected with a header that buried her mistake in the South African goal while elevating her as the night's hero.

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