Group F: Sweden 5-1 Thailand
Nice: Three first-half goals helped Sweden to a comprehensive 5-1 win over Thailand, in each side’s second FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 Group F fixture on Sunday.
Under pressure to improve following their record 13-0 defeat to the United States on Tuesday, Thailand earned an improved result, and enjoyed a moment to remember thanks to Kanjana Sung-Ngoen’s late goal, but remain on the brink of group stage elimination.
While mathematically still in knockout stage contention, Thailand now require an implausible series of events in their favour, including a thumping win over Chile, to reach the last 16, while Sweden’s win guarantees their progression with a match to spare.
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Featuring a reshuffled 4-5-1 formation, and the return of experienced goalkeeper, Waraporn Boonsing, Thailand were desperate to avoid the type of mismatch they endured on Matchday One, but, despite their changes, they found themselves a goal behind within six minutes.
The Chaba Kaew’s apparent weakness in defending set-pieces was exposed once more, as Swedish defender Linda Sambrant was left unmarked and unhampered from nodding the ball in from six yards for the game’s opening goal.
Despite their early concession, Thailand were more comfortable in possession than they had been against the Americans, with Kanjana and Suchawadee Nildhamrong both leading raids forward, and the latter firing a long-range effort over the crossbar on the quarter-hour.
Sweden remained largely in control, and went further ahead in the 19th minute, when the excellent Kosovare Asllani kept the ball in play after a Waraporn save, before neatly dribbling inside and beating the Thai shot-stopper at the near post.
A wonderful 25-yard strike from Fridolina Rolfo then lasered into the top corner just before half-time, ominously giving Sweden the same 3-0 half-time lead the Americans had held on their way to 13 goals on Tuesday.
But this time Thailand showed a far greater level of organisation and determination to prevent the Swedes from scoring the type of simple goals of five days prior.
Sweden still dominated in the air, and still registered 34 goal attempts to Thailand’s five, but the Thais managed to complete more passes, and occasionally looked to threaten in Kanjana-led transition moments.
But, while Thailand’s improvement was something of a moral victory, there was little doubt about Sweden’s ascendancy, and when Lina Hurtig steered a terrific header into the top corner to make it 4-0 in the 81st minute, there was no doubt about the destination of the three points.
Thailand’s moment in the sun came in the first minute of added time, when Sweden allowed far too much space for one of Kanjana’s habitual counter-attacking raids, allowing the Chaba Kaew veteran to slam the ball past Hedvig Lindahl at the near post to the delight of the Thai bench.
Thailand’s joy was short-lived however, as Elin Rubensson added Sweden’s fifth with one of the final kicks of the game from the penalty spot as the Scandinavians marched on to the Round of 16.
Photos: FIFA via Getty Images, AFP
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