Sweden beat Belgium 1-0 at the Leigh Sports Village stadium near Manchester on Friday night, after veteran Linda Sembrant mustered a late winner in injury time to secure her side’s spot in the Women’s Euro 2022 semifinals.
Although the Swedes are the highest-ranked team left in the competition, they dragged out their victory against the Red Flames – who were playing their first ever quarterfinal in a major tournament.
Sweden immediately emerged as the stronger side after kick off, with Belgium goalkeeper Nicky Evrard saving a strike from Manchester City’s Filippa Angeldahl in the sixth minute.
A flurry of attempts from the Blågult followed.
Barely 10 minutes later, Paris Saint-Germain defender Amanda Ilestedt rocketed an aggressive header into the penalty area but was swiftly denied by Belgian Evrard, who clutched onto the ball before Stina Blackstenius could have another attempt at goal.
The crowd roared in anticipation as Blackstenius made a sterling run to break through a wave of Belgium defenders, before firing into the bottom corner. However, Sweden’s celebrations were cut short after VAR ruled the goal offside.
Belgium’s first chance of the match came from midfielder Justine Vanhaevermaet, whose 25-yard attempt trailed past the left goalpost. Sweden made a feverish attempt to secure a lead before halftime, but fell short after Blackstenius failed to get the ball past Evrard.
‘We pushed really hard’
As the evening wore on it looked like Sweden and Belgium would extend their tie and go head to head in extra time, with the former failing to capitalize on its chances.
Angeldahl hit a powerful strike but it missed just over the crossbar. Former Real Madrid star Kosovare Asllani curled a free kick into the penalty area, but Evrard saved a gravity-defying header from Blackstenius.
But Belgium’s resistance finally broke in the 92nd minute, when Sweden were afforded a corner and Sembrant chipped the ball past Evrard to find the back of the net.
“We showed them who we are. It took them until added time to score. That says a lot,” Belgium forward Tessa Wullaert said, according to the UEFA website. “We were the underdogs from the beginning, but we did really well as a team. That’s what I want to remember from this tournament.”
“We pushed really hard and, in the second half, we really went for goal,” Sembrant told reporters after the game.
“It’s hard to describe my feelings when I saw the ball go in. It’s amazing, incredible and I just wanted to celebrate with the whole team, so I ran towards the stand.”
Sweden is now set to face England in the semifinals at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, on Tuesday night for a ticket to Wembley Stadium on July 31.