Matildas draw with Sweden, progress in World Cup

A clinical Lisa De Vanna strike has carried Australia to a 1-1 draw with Sweden and sealed their passage to the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

The Matildas survived an 80-minute onslaught in their final Group D match at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on Wednesday morning (AEST) to set up a last-16 clash with Brazil.

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In doing so, they have likely bundled out Sweden, the team that had so cruelly done the same to them in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals.

Coach Alen Stajcic promised his charges would bring the same high-pressing attack that toppled Nigeria on Saturday, and his unchanged line-up duly delivered in the opening 10 minutes.

Progression from the “group of death” appeared little more than a formality when Lisa De Vanna gave the Matildas the lead in the fourth minute.

Defensive backbone Laura Alleway provided a pin-point long ball that floated dreamily over Sweden’s defence and set De Vanna up for a typically clinical finish.

It was all in a ruthless day’s work for the veteran scoring machine, who again brought searing pace up front as she and Sam Kerr flanked Kyah Simon in a bid to exploit spaces at the back.

But the Matildas’ dominance was all too fleeting, as they became rattled by their higher-ranked European foes and evoked memories of that devastating match four years ago.

Sofia Jakobsson provided the equaliser for Sweden in the 15th minute, the nimble striker casually cutting through Australia’s broken defence to beat goalkeeper Lydia Williams at her near post with a left-footed drive from the edge of the box.

It was a mistake Williams wasted no time atoning for via two crucial saves within a minute, first in smothering a 10-metre effort from Sweden captain Caroline Seger before blocking another short-range Jakobsson delivery.

Australia scrambled diligently and Elise Kellond-Knight worked industriously in the midfield, but they struggled to disrupt Sweden’s staunch defensive line boasting Nilla Fischer and Lina Nilsson.

Conversely, Alleway and Steph Catley were stretched at the back as the Swedes zipped the ball around in the attacking third.

Nineteen-year-old World Cup debutant Larissa Crummer provided some tidy work when she came on for De Vanna in the second half, as did Michelle Heyman in replacing Simon.

Katrina Gorry had a chance to secure a win for Australia in the 74th minute when a ball from Kerr fell fortuitously in the box, but the 22-year-old missed the opportunity.

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