Sweden reach semi-finals with dramatic Japan win

Swedes book last-four meeting with Spain after 2-1 victory in Auckland.


Japan 1-2 Sweden | Quarter-finals

Goalscorers: Ilestedt (32′), Angeldahl pen (51′), Hayashi (87′)

Sweden are into the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ for a fifth time after a narrow victory over Japan.

Amanda Ilestedt fired home her fourth goal of the tournament in the first half, before Filippa Angeldal’s penalty gave Sweden daylight. Japan’s Riko Ueki went on to hit the bar from a spot-kick of her own. Honoka Hayashi would halve the deficit with a close-range strike, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Sweden from going through.



After toppling reigning champions USA in the Round of 16, Sweden returned to action full of confidence and it showed. Stina Blackstenius had the first real opening of the game for the Europeans in the first half, but her skewed effort fell wide of the mark.


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Moments later, though, the breakthrough did come, with unlikely adidas Golden Boot challenger Ilestedt scoring her fourth of the tournament. The goal, unsurprisingly, came from a set piece, as the defender stabbed home following some penalty-box pinball.

Sweden very nearly doubled their tally just before the interval, after Kosovare Asllani’s fizzing volley was tipped onto the post by Ayaka Yamashita.


Five minutes into the second half Sweden were awarded a penalty following a handball in the Japan box. Manchester City midfielder Angeldahl stepped up and sent Yamashita the wrong way, burying her spot-kick into the bottom corner to double her nation’s advantage.


The Nadeshiko grew into the game from there and were gifted a golden opportunity to get back into it with a penalty of their own. But second-half substitute Ueki could only watch on as her effort ricocheted off the crossbar.

Despite the miss, Japan gained momentum and were inches away from getting on the scoresheet when an Aoba Fujino free-kick hit both the bar and the post. Their luck soon changed, though, with a sweeping strike from Hayashi setting up a grandstand finish at Eden Park.

Ultimately, though, it was not meant to be for Japan, who bow out of the competition as Sweden reach their fifth semi-final in the history of the competition. They will now face Spain in the last four.

Key stat

Filippa Angeldal’s penalty was the 150th goal scored at the Women’s World Cup 2023.

VISA Player of the Match

Amanda Ilestedt (Sweden)


“When we tried to put pressure on them, they would run behind or use their height. We knew their strong points, but we would have wanted to have more time to attack. Still, in the second half, we showed a fighting spirit and got a goal back. I am proud of the players for not giving up and fighting till the end. It’s difficult to sort things out right now, but I think the players showed what we are able to do as Japan, as Nadeshiko in every match and also in the preparations for the tournament. We couldn’t turn those things into a victory today, but I want them to feel proud.” Futoshi Ikeda, Japan coach

“The result is everything, so I’m really disappointed that we lost and ended the tournament. It’s difficult to look back on the match in this situation, but there were definitely plenty of chances to get goals back. I think it’s because of our lack of strength that we missed one more final step. We created a lot of chances as well, but we conceded two goals from set pieces that we knew would be dangerous for us. If we could have resisted a little more in defense, I think we might have had more chances in attack. So I’m just frustrated but I want to thank my teammates for fighting together. I wanted to keep on playing with them a little more and I thought that moving forward in this tournament would help the future of female football in Japan, but we have no choice but to accept this result.” Saki Kumagai, Japan captain


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