Football: Blackstenius gives Sweden last-16 women’s World Cup victory over Canada

Stina Blackstenius celebrates after scoring during the women's World Cup match against Canada in Paris on June 24, 2019.
Stina Blackstenius celebrates after scoring during the women’s World Cup match against Canada in Paris on June 24, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) – Stina Blackstenius scored the only goal of a cagey match as Sweden beat Canada 1-0 in Paris on Monday (June 24) to reach the women’s World Cup quarter-finals.

The victory sets up a rematch of the 2016 Olympic final as the Swedes play Germany on Saturday (June 29) in Rennes. Three years ago Germany won the gold with a 2-1 victory in Rio de Janeiro, though Blackstenius scored in that match.

Blackstenius scored the only goal in the 55th minute with a brave finish after a crisp Swedish counter-attack.

After that, the last-16 tie was once again a story of VAR. A review gave Canada a penalty, but Hedvig Lindahl, at full stretch, saved Janine Beckie’s driven spot-kick.

Then, referee Kate Jacewicz pointed to the spot after a foul by Ashley Lawrence, but the decision was over-ruled after VAR detected a Swedish offside in the build-up.

Both sides came into the knockout rounds after losing dead rubbers to finish second in their groups. Canada went down 2-1 to the Netherlands. Sweden fell 2-0 to the USA but rested a host of usual starters.

The Swedes made five changes for a match that kicked off with the temperature tickling 30 degrees Celsius.

Neither side managed a shot on target in the first half.

Christine Sinclair, chasing the all-time women’s international scoring record, had one shot, early in the second half, a 25-metre free-kick that curled gently wide.

Sweden took the lead on the counter.

Kosovare Asllani ran onto a long pass down the left, paused and then curled the ball behind centre-back Shelina Zadorsky and into the path of Blackstenius. The centre-forward hit the ball first-time from just inside the box and before being clattered by Zadorsky and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe. The shot looped off Labbe and into the net.

Canada responded with a burst of frenzied pressure and were rewarded on 68 minutes when Desiree Scott met a weak clearance from a corner with a volley that struck Asllani on the arm.

Manchester City’s Beckie drilled her penalty low to Lindahl’s right, but the Chelsea goalkeeper hurled herself across the goal to save.

Then VAR denied the Swedes a penalty.

Canada pressed desperately but the nearest either side came to a goal was when Scott cleared Asllani’s volley off the line after a Swedish corner.

ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Durham
Sri Lanka 338-6 (50 overs): Fernando 104, Holder 2-59
West Indies 315-9 (50 overs): Pooran 118, Malinga 3-55
Sri Lanka won by 23 runs

Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow shake hands in the middle while batting for England

West Indies fell 23 runs short of a record World Cup run chase despite a magnificent 118 from Nicholas Pooran against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street.

Set 339 after a maiden century from Sri Lanka’s Avishka Fernando, the Windies were 84-4 in the 18th over.

Pooran played some swashbuckling shots, ably supported by Fabian Allen (51).

Yet with 31 needed from the last three overs, Pooran was caught behind as West Indies closed on 315-9, Lasith Malinga claiming 3-55.

Both teams began the match knowing they could not qualify for the semi-finals but produced a classic encounter.

When Carlos Brathwaite was the sixth West Indies wicket to fall, run out at the non-striker’s end by the slightest of deflections, 140 runs were still needed.

Allen reached his half-century from just 30 balls to add 83 inside 10 overs with Pooran – but he refused his partner’s call for a single and was run out with 57 required from 35 balls.

Sri Lanka’s pace spearhead Malinga, who earlier had two catches dropped off his bowling in one over, then saw Pooran offer a straightforward chance to long-off on 108, but substitute fielder Thisara Perera misjudged it horrendously and it went for four.

However, former Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews was introduced for his first bowl of the tournament and his opening delivery – an inviting ball wide of off stump – was edged to the keeper by Pooran.

It was another narrow defeat for West Indies, who lost by five runs to New Zealand after centurion Brathwaite attempted to win the match with a six and was caught on the boundary.

They still have only one victory in the tournament, the emphatic seven-wicket rout of Pakistan in their opening match, who they bowled out for 105.

The hostile pace bowling unit that decimated Pakistan and left Australia 38-4 in match two failed to fire on Monday – and there were misfields, dropped catches and accusatory gestures.

Fernando came to the crease in the 16th over following a fine opening stand of 93 between left-handers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera.

Slightly built, Fernando favoured precise strokeplay over power in the mould of Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene, but he was still able to dispatch Sheldon Cottrell for two sixes into the leg side, one measured at 83 metres.

The Windies were guilty of five no-balls, the highest in an innings at this tournament and it was a mammoth overstep from Oshane Thomas that allowed Lahiru Thirimanne a reprieve after he clipped straight to mid-wicket.

Thirimanne advanced down the wicket to thump successive boundaries in the next over as the Sri Lanka middle order all contributed to an impressive total – their previous highest in the competition had been 247 in an 87-run defeat by Australia at The Oval.

However, after Malinga struck twice in his opening three overs, it was the brilliance of Pooran that looked set to rescue the mercurial Windies, who had Barbadian pop star Rihanna cheering them on enthusiastically from the stands.

Pooran, the stylish Trinidadian left-hander, reached his fifty with a six, and with Allen also striking the ball cleanly for his maiden half-century, West Indies looked favourites as Sri Lanka’s attack began to wilt and show a lack of depth.

But the pivotal moment came when Mathews, in his first one-day international spell for 561 days, lured Pooran into a full-blooded cut that, for once, was not struck sweetly and the ball was gleefully pouched behind the stumps.

Sri Lanka will surely rue two washed-out matches earlier in the tournament, because even if they beat India in their final match and reach 10 points, they would not go through as other teams have more wins.

World Cup group table
Rank Team P W L T NR RR Pts
1 Australia (Q) 8 7 1 0 0 1 14
2 India 7 5 1 0 1 0.854 11
3 New Zealand 8 5 2 0 1 0.572 11
4 England 8 5 3 0 0 1 10
5 Pakistan 8 4 3 0 1 -0.792 9
6 Sri Lanka 8 3 3 0 2 -0.934 8
7 Bangladesh 7 3 3 0 2 -0.133 7
8 South Africa 8 2 5 0 1 -0.08 5
9 West Indies 8 1 6 0 1 -0.335 3
10 Afghanistan 8 0 8 0 0 -1.418 0

‘Angelo put his hands up’

Sri Lanka captain Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne: “To win any match is a great feeling. It gives us lots of confidence. All of the players are doing really well. That is what I was expecting as a captain.

“Angelo put his hands up and said: ‘OK I will bowl two overs.’ He has that confidence. He did the job. I don’t think he is going to bowl much more, but if it is a crucial time he might bowl a couple of overs.”

West Indies skipper Jason Holder: “We started slowly out of the blocks; we gave up a lot of runs in the field and that really hurts you. We were sloppy. We have to be better. This entire tournament we have let key moments slip.

Arsene Wenger head and shoulders image
Arsene Wenger has not returned to management since leaving Arsenal in May 2018

Arsene Wenger has denied rumours that he is in discussions with Bayern Munich to become their new manager.

The 70-year-old Frenchman was providing analysis for beIN Sports on Wednesday for Bayern’s Champions League victory over Olympiakos.

Asked about the speculation, he said: “I never refuse to talk to Bayern Munich because I know these people who lead the club for 30 years.

“I was nearly going to Bayern a long, long time ago. At the moment, I haven’t talked to them at all.

“We have not talked to each other and I don’t know [if we will].”

Bayern are currently fourth in the Bundesliga, four points behind leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Wenger legend
Arsene Wenger won the Premier League three times with Arsenal
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June 2019