The Matildas’ dreams of Olympic gold have been dashed in heartbreaking fashion with a 1-0 defeat to Sweden in their semi-final.
Australia controversially had a goal ruled out in the 42nd minute and copped a cruel sucker punch from Fridolina Rolfo less than a minute into the second half to fall short at International Stadium Yokohama on Monday night.
The Matildas will now face the United States, which lost to Canada 1-0 in the earlier semi-final, in Thursday’s bronze medal match.
But they will have to do so without star defender Ellie Carpenter, who was sent off for a professional foul in the 95th minute.
Inspirational captain Sam Kerr battled soreness in the lead-up but played the whole game, while coach Tony Gustavsson made just one change to the starting line-up, with Chloe Logarzo replacing Aivi Luik.
FULL TIME | It just wasn’t meant to be tonight.
We’ll face USA for a Bronze Medal on Thursday night! pic.twitter.com/sa8KKEP8Ta
— Matildas (@TheMatildas) August 2, 2021
By and large, the Matildas defended astutely and were patient in possession early, but only the woodwork stopped Sweden taking the lead in the 23rd minute when Rolfo ripped a terrific long-range strike off the crossbar.
From there, the Australians cranked up the heat and seized control.
Alanna Kennedy forced a save from Hedvig Lindahl with a curling free kick in the 40th minute and two minutes later, Australia arguably should have been in front.
Kerr cleverly volleyed Steph Catley’s free kick home at the near post – but the referee ruled an offside Emily van Egmond further down the line of players had blocked the run of Swedish defenders.
It left the Matildas up in arms and Sweden breathing a sigh of relief.
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) August 2, 2021
But Australia kept pressing and shortly after, the excellent Yallop whipped in a brilliant ball and Kerr just flicked a header past the post.
Sweden snatched the lead in the most fortuitous of fashions in the 46th minute.
Logarzo partially blocked Filippa Angeldal’s long-range shot but it took a wicked deflection and a backtracking Micah was only able to tip the awkwardly bouncing ball onto the crossbar.
In the resulting chaos, the ball nicked out for Rolfo to inventively stick out her leg and hack home from close range.
In the 55th minute, Kerr nodded Carpenter’s cross straight at Lindahl, while in the 74th, Catley forced a strong near-post save from the Swedish goalkeeper.
— Bruce Djité (@BDjite) August 2, 2021
From there, the Matildas threw everything at Sweden, with exciting teenage substitutes Mary Fowler and Kyra Cooney-Cross creating chances without reward.
Carpenter received her straight red card in the dying seconds for dragging down Lina Hurtig as the last defender, ruling her out of the USA match.
So proud of the #Matildas .. you girls played some seriously wonderful football tonight. You have the bronze medal in site, go get it! 💜
— Julie Murray (@JulieMurray9) August 2, 2021