The 2020 Olympic Women’s Football tournament in Tokyo reached a dramatic conclusion earlier today with favorites Sweden facing underdogs Canada for the gold medal. Though the Canadians have a good young squad, betting money favored Sweden, who looked the best team all tournament. However, this is football, which by very definition is chaotic and unpredictable, particularly in a winner-take-all match.
Defensively solid Canada defeated the USWNT in the semifinals by squeezing the Americans, limiting space, and defending resolutely before earning a late penalty to secure a 1-0 win. Jessie Fleming, handed the ball by the top international goalscorer of all-time, men or women, Christine Sinclair, dispatched that penalty to propel Canada to the gold medal match. There, the same thing happened.
After conceding a first half goal, Canada won a penalty just past the hour mark. Sinclair picked up the ball, blessed it, and handed it to Fleming.
Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson started the match at left back, a position she had played for Sweden throughout the tournament after recovering from an injury. Early on, she darted into the box to control a cross that squirmed through and nearly scored with a left-footed thunderbolt that narrowly flew wide of the far post. In the 75th minute, Eriksson was replaced by Chelsea left back Jonna Andersson.
Hopeful moments in attack and last-ditch defending throughout the rest of normal and extra time resulted in no further goals. The penalty shootout for gold seemed both unfair and exactly how things should have been decided. Both teams had stretches where they imposed their will, missed narrow chances to win, and defended well.
Just one added minute but it's still 1-1 after 120 minutes! We go to penalties!— David Yung (@DavidYung) August 6, 2021
I wouldn't say Canada have been playing overly negative football or are playing NOT to lose but they were just about fending off Sweden.
90 minutes & 120 minutes statistics. pic.twitter.com/H8EXIs3nFK
Fleming against stepped up to the spot as Canada’s first penalty taker and scored past former Blue Hedvig Lindahl. Then things got chaotic. A series of misses, saves and a rattling of the bar saw the shootout come down to Caroline Seger in the fifth spot, with a chance to win it for Sweden. Her shot blazed over the bar and propelled the teams into sudden death. The most nervy and unpredictable thing in football entered its most chaotic form, and with a gold medal on the line.
Twenty-year-old Julia Grosso faced Lindahl to win the gold for Canada. Lindahl guessed the right way and got a palm on the ball but could only deflect it into the back of the net to secure the gold for Canada.
Congratulations on a series of fantastic performances to Jessie Fleming, who played 555 minutes throughout the tournament and has won an Olympic gold medal!
And congratulations to our captain, Magdalena Eriksson as well as Jonna Andersson and Sweden backup goalkeeper Zećira Mušović on bringing home silver!