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Australia won in extra-time after failing to move to the semis.
Women’s football at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 continued to produce interesting results as three out of four ties required at least extra-time to decide the winner. Sweden were the only side to register a regular-time win, while the USWNT and Canada escaped with penalty shootout victories. Elsewhere, Australia stunned Great Britain with an extra-time win. Title contenders Great Britain, the Netherlands and Brazil all crashed out, while underdogs Canada and Australia made the final four.
Goalkeepers starred in three of the four games in the women’s quarterfinals, with Stephanie Labbe and Alyssa Naeher starring for their respective sides. Here are the key talking points from the quarterfinals of women’s football at the Tokyo Olympics.
Labbe stars in Canada’s shootout win against mighty Brazil
Stephanie Labbe pulled off heroic saves in the penalty shootout to take Canada into the semi-final. After a goalless draw, Labbe saved the last two penalties to secure a 4-3 win in the shootout, despite taking a knock.
Brazil, after a relatively comfortable journey to the quarterfinals, looked to be the more dominant side. They enjoyed more possession and registered more shots on target. However, Labbe stepped up whenever she was called on and Brazil’s attack simply could not get past her. She made four crucial saves in regular time.
Canada’s penalty shootout began in not the best possible way with Barbara saving Christine Sinclair’s penalty. However, the side managed to score their remaining four to keep the Selecao under pressure. Brazil, on the other hand, started well. But, Andressa Alves and Rafaelle had their penalties saved, handing Canada the tie at the very last moment. They will now face the USA in the second semi-final of women’s football event at Tokyo Olympics.
Ellen White’s hat-trick goes in vain as Great Britain crash out against Australia
Despite not performing convincingly in their group stage fixtures, Australia beat Group E winners Great Britain to advance to the semi-finals. The match needed extra-time to decide the winners after the game ended in a 2-2 draw in regulation time. Samantha Kerr‘s 89th-minute strike forced extra time, after Ellen White’s brace had put the Brits in the lead.
Despite being in the lead for most of the game, Great Britain conceded in the penultimate minute to head into extra time. Caroline Weir missed a penalty in the 103rd minute and watched in horror as Australia scored two goals in three minutes to make it 4-2, with strikes from Mary Fowler and Kerr.
Ellen White then completed her hat-trick with five minutes remaining, but that wasn’t enough as Great Britain failed to find the equalizer. Australia held on to their late lead to secure victory. The Matildas will now go head-to-head against title contenders Sweden in the first semi-final of women’s football at Tokyo Olympics.
Sweden continue their victory run to advance to semi-finals
Sweden’s exceptional run at the Olympics continues, as they registered a 3-1 win over Japan. Magda Eriksson, Stina Blacksteinus and Kosovare Asllani scored in the only regular time victory of the night. Mina Tanaka was on the scoresheet for Japan, netting in the 23rd minute to momentarily equalize.
Despite enjoying more possession than Sweden, Japan’s lack of verticality and inability to create chances made them ineffective. The hosts registered just seven shots, six of them on target, whereas Sweden managed to get 11 shots overall.
The Swedes did everything right playing without the ball and took their chances more often than their opponents. Asllani’s penalty was the final nail in the coffin for Japan, who had qualified as the joint-best third side in the group stages of women’s football at Tokyo Olympics.
Alyssa Naeher’s heroics secure narrow win for USWNT
In yet another goalkeeping mayhem of the night, Alyssa Naeher saved two penalties in the shootout to get the United States into the Tokyo Olympics semi-finals. Prior to the two shootout saves, Naeher denied Lieke Martens from the spot in the 80th minute, not giving the Netherlands the chance to win it in regular time.
After the Netherlands took the lead in the 18th minute through Vivianne Miedema‘s goal, the USWNT responded to lead 2-1. Lynn Williams assisted Samantha Mewis in the 21st minute, before scoring one herself in the 28th to go into half-time. Unlike the group stage, the USWNT looked sharp and fluid against a better-looking Dutch side coming into the match.
It was Miedema’s goal that brought the game to equal terms in the second half, before Martens missed a golden chance to put the Dutch ahead. With yet another brace, the Arsenal forward took her goal tally to 10 in the competition, the highest-ever by a female player at a single edition.
Despite scoring twice in extra-time, the USA were haunted yet again by offside goals. When it came down to the penalties, Miedema missed the Netherlands’ first, as Naeher correctly guessed to her right. The USWNT scored all of their penalties, with Megan Rapinoe netting the winner, after Naeher had saved Aniek Nouwen’s penalty in the women’s football quarter-final event of Tokyo Olympics.
Struggling before the quarterfinals, the USWNT definitely will have gotten their confidence back with this victory. Now, only two games stand between them and Olympic glory – yet again.