Sweden defeats US to end 43-game unbeaten run
ALBUFEIRA, Portugal (AP) — Sweden eked out a 1-0 victory over the United States to end the American women’s 43-game unbeaten run and deny them any chance of reaching the Algarve Cup final, which Germany reached on Friday after clinching its group.
Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl saved Abby Wambach’s penalty before Lotta Schelin headed home what proved to be the 24th-minute winner.
The U.S. dominated at the Municipal Stadium but, just as in the 1-1 draw against Japan, the nine-time tournament winner could not make that quality count.
In the closing moments Lindahl denied chances from substitutes Kristie Mewis and Sarah Hagen before Mewis shot wide from close range in stoppage time.
Sweden leads Group B with six points, while Japan is second with four points after Mana Iwabuchi’s first-half free kick fired it to a 1-0 win over Denmark.
Japan must beat Sweden in its final group game since only the group winner reaches the final.
Germany ensured its place in the final with a 1-0 victory over China as the European champions secured Group A with one game in hand.
“I’m very satisfied. That was hard work today,” Germany coach Silvia Neid said.
Anja Mittag scored the only goal with six minutes to play as Germany followed up its win over Iceland with a hard-fought victory that took it to six points — three better than China and Iceland, with Norway pointless. Germany’s wins over China and Iceland means it will advance even if it ends level on six points.
“We’re now in the final and we’re looking forward to the next strong opponents,” captain Celia Sasic said.
Earlier, the Americans went into the match knowing only victory would suffice following its opening stalemate with Japan, which was the last country to beat the U.S. — here at the Algarve Cup two years ago.
U.S. midfielder Amy Rodriguez was taken down inside the area to set up the 15th-minute spot kick, but Lindahl guessed correctly to push Wambach’s penalty past the right post.
Wambach was active at the start but the early opportunities were forgotten when Sofia Jakobsson won the ball from Ali Krieger in the right corner and sent in a cross that Schlein guided past goalkeeper Hope Solo.
The U.S. did not wilt, however, forcing Sweden into turnovers. The Swedish defense contained well enough under coach Pia Sundhage against an opponent she also used to coach.
The Americans continued to press with sisters Samantha and Kristie Mewis both coming in to bolster the attack, with Kristie making the bigger impact as she forced Lindahl into a leg save on a break in the 85th. The U.S. had problems finishing off its opportunities with forward Alex Morgan absent.
Iceland beat Norway 2-1 in the other Group A match.
The U.S., which has one point, plays pointless Denmark in its final group game.