Mon, Jul 18, 2011 - Page 18 News List

SOCCER: Sweden down France for third place at World Cup


Sweden’s Sofia Jakobsson, left, and Madelaine Edlund celebrate after defeating France for third place at the women’s World Cup in Sinsheim, Germany, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Sweden finished third at the women’s World Cup after beating France 2-1 in Saturday’s playoff despite finishing the game with 10 players.

Sweden striker Lotta Schelin put her side ahead in the first half, only for French replacement Elodie Thomis to equalize in the 56th minute, before Swedish striker Josefine Oqvist was sent off in the 68th minute.

However, in the dramatic closing stages, substitute midfielder Marie Hammarstrom won the game — and the bronze medal — for Sweden with a superb strike in the 82nd minute.

“I wasn’t thinking of my friends in Lyon, just my friends in Sweden,” said striker Schelin, who plays for Olympique Lyon in France. “I am so happy about what we have achieved. It is a good team and we work for each other. We refocused after missing the opportunity to play in the final and at least we have a medal now.”

Both teams had already secured the two available European places at next year’s Olympic Games in London by reaching the semi-finals.

Sweden’s 3-1 defeat to Japan in Frankfurt on Wednesday and France’s 3-1 loss to the USA in Moenchengladbach the same day brought the teams to the playoff.

Sweden took the lead when a pass by defender Sara Larsson from inside her own half found Schelin and the Lyon striker chipped her shot past French goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz in the 29th minute.

To add injury to insult, Sapowicz was stretchered off in obvious pain as the replay showed her jumping to block Schelin, only to land on her right ankle, which buckled underneath her.

France fought back straight after the double blow and Paris Saint Germain midfielder Elise Bussaglia hit the post straight after with Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl well beaten.

The French got back on level terms when left winger Gaetane Thiney won a tussle for the ball on the edge of the penalty area and strung a pass through the defense for substitute Elodie Thomis to roll her shot past Lindahl.

Sweden were reduced to 10 players when Oqvist was shown a red card for lashing out, but Sweden dug deep for the winning goal.

From a corner, the ball was headed away to Hammarstrom — who had only come off the bench an hour into the game — and the 29-year-old produced a stunning goal.

Having controlled the ball with her chest, she unleashed a fierce drive from the edge of the area which gave French substitute goalkeeper Celine Deville no chance.

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