SWEDEN DEMOLISH ITALY 5-0 TO REACH SECOND ROUND OF WORLD CUP

Sweden turned on the style to demolish Group G rivals Italy and secure a place in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup with one game to spare.

The 2019 semi-finalists showed why they remain heavyweights of the women’s game as Amanda Ilestedt, Fridolina Rolfo and Stina Blackstenius scored in the space of seven minutes at the end of the first half.

New¬†Arsenal signing Ilestedt¬†opened the scoring with a glancing header from Jonna Andersson’s corner before Rolfo, a Champions League winner with Barcelona, used her knee to double the lead after another corner.

Italy, who had recorded clean sheets in six of their previous 13 World Cup matches, conceded a third when Blackstenius, another Arsenal player, finished from close range.

In front of a crowd of 29,143, it went from bad to worse for Le Azzurre when Ilestedt added the fourth – her third goal of the tournament – from another header from yet another corner.

And substitute Rebecka Blomqvist added the fifth in the 95th minute.

Sweden will face one of the United States, the Netherlands or Portugal in the knockout stage.

Italy remain second in the group with three points from two games, but need to defeat South Africa next Wednesday back in Wellington (08:00 BST) to make sure of progressing in the tournament.

Sweden turn on the style

Former finalists Sweden needed a 90th-minute winner from Ilestedt to overcome South Africa in their opening group game but they had no such problems dispatching Italy in New Zealand’s capital.

The World Cup ever-presents, who are ranked third in the world behind defending world champions the United States and Germany, sent out a powerful message they could go deep into yet another tournament.

After being semi-finalists in France four years ago, they made it to the Olympic final two years ago before reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2022.

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With the team based about half an hour’s drive from Wellington, Sweden have attracted lots of local support in New Zealand.

The locals in the Saturday night crowd lapped up the goals as Sweden showed their ruthless side, with defender Ilestedt now joint leading scorer at the tournament with Brazil forward Ary Borges.

Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

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