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Last-minute Sweden winner denies brave South Africa at Women’s World Cup

Sweden has denied South Africa a first-ever Women’s World Cup point, claiming an 90th-minute winner over the underdogs in Wellington.

Amanda Ilestadt broke South African hearts with her header from Kosovare Asllani’s corner just as full-time loomed on Sunday evening.

On a shiver-inducing night, Hildah Magaia stunned the world third-ranked Swedes with the opening goal, sparking a mini-pitch invasion from the bench for South Africa, ranked 54th in the world.

Sweden’s Fridolina Rolfo, who scored the winner in last month’s European Champions League final for Barcelona, equalised on 65 minutes, setting up a frenzied finish.

After Sweden knocked on the door for half an hour, Ilestadt leapt highest for a winner from Sweden’s 11th corner of the match.

Arriving at the stadium and dancing and singing their way from the bus to their change room, South Africa merited a point for their physical and patient counter-attacking play.

Still, the first half was forgettable, with Sweden’s tippy-tappy football not helped by the relentless drizzle.

On the half-hour mark, Magaia was fortunate not to concede a penalty when a goal-bound shot from Filippa Angeldahl struck her elbow.

The Scandinavians’ best chances came from crosses, with Ilestedt heading corners in quick succession wide and over the goal.

South Africa struck three minutes after the restart, when the indefatigable Thembi Kgatlana raced onto a long ball and cut inside to shoot.

Her effort was palmed away by Zecira Musovic into the path of Magaia, who arrived first at speed to knock the ball into an empty net.

As she hurtled towards goal, the South African was ankle-tapped by Jonna Andersson, sending her into into the net, tangled and hurt.

While her Banyana Banyana teammates danced in celebration, Magaia remained strewn on the ground and in need of assistance.

The 28-year-old was substituted 10 minutes later as Sweden upped the ante in search of an equaliser.

It arrived soon afterwards, with Rolfo bundling home a cross from Chelsea’s Johanna Kaneryd with defender Lebohang Ramalepe all at sea.

From that point, Sweden monopolised possession and repeatedly threatened South Africa’s goal.

Kaneryd thought she had blown it when she missed a free header on 88 minutes, with South African goalkeeper Kaylin Swart slipping and the goal at her mercy.

Up stepped Arsenal defender Ilestedt to give the Group G favourites an expected win, but one earned with unexpected hardship.

-AAP

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