Amanda Ilestedt scored a last-minute winner as Sweden beat South Africa at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in Wellington.
The 2022 Africa Cup of Nations champions came close to picking up their first point at a World Cup, having lost all three matches on their only previous appearance in 2019.
South Africa opened the scoring with a 48th-minute goal from Hildah Magaia, but it was cancelled out by a deflected Frida Rolfo effort before Ilestedt’s decisive header.
Sweden top Group G, with Argentina and Italy to meet on Monday.
South Africa almost opened the scoring when captain Refiloe Jane saw Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic off her line and attempted an audacious strike from 40 yards out, with the ball ending up on the roof of the net.
While Desiree Ellis’ side impressed on the counter-attack, Sweden – ranked third in the world – struggled to create clear-cut chances, and Filippa Angeldal forced the only save from Kaylin Swart in the first half with a tame effort from a free-kick routine.
South Africa raced out of the blocks after the break, finding the opener when Musovic could only parry Thembi Kgatlana’s deflected shot into the path of Magaia, who ran the ball into the net for her nation’s second World Cup goal.
Magaia was absent from her team’s celebrations, injuring herself as she bundled the ball into the net, and was substituted shortly after.
As Sweden committed more players forward in search for an equaliser, South Africa enjoyed more counter-attacking opportunities and continued to look the more threatening side.
But their hard work was cancelled out when Rolfo’s touch from Johanna Kaneryd’s cross was deflected by Lebohang Ramalepe into her own goal.
Peter Gerhardsson’s side continued to push forward but were denied by solid South Africa defending until Kosovare Asllani’s corner was met by Ilestedt with a strong header.