July 2, 2011

Sweden 1, Korea DPR 0

In almost a carbon copy of the first match for Sweden, they defeated Korea DPR 1-0, putting themselves in good position to advance to the quarterfinals. A tie or win by the United States will clinch a quarterfinal berth for Sweden.

Once again, Sweden had trouble putting away their chances. Once again, they were not dominant. And once again, they were able to get a second half goal to win the match. Korea, while they did well with possession at stretches throughout the match, really had very few threatening chances.

Like Tuesday, Sweden had an early chance to jump out on top. Lotta Schelin was open on the left side of the box, running onto a long ball out of the back, but her shot went just high and just wide left from 15 yards away. Like Jessica Landstrom in the match against Colombia, Schelin has a frustrating first half, missing out on golden opportunities.

There were few Korean chances in the opening 45 minutes and then from distance, like Kim Su Gyong's attempt from 28 yards in the sixth minute that went harmlessly wide. Their best chance of the first half was a cross from Song Jong Sun from the right side in the 19th minute. Kim was able to get a cleaner header on it, but the shot went well wide of the right post.

In the 30th minute, Caroline Seger sent Schelin in on the right side of the box, but Schelin did not get over the ball properly and her shot sailed high and wide to the right. Sweden's last chance of the half was Jessica Landstrom's attempt from 25 yards that sailed over the crossbar in the 42nd minute.

Sweden continued to press in the second half. Schelin sent the ball to Lisa Dahlqvist in the box, but Hong Myong Hui came out to deflect the ball wide. Five minutes later, a corner kick resulted in a scramble in the box after Hong was unable to get to the ball. Dahlqvist's shot from 15 yards was blocked by the defense and the ball was cleared.

Seger picked up a yellow card in the 59th minute, which was about the last thing Sweden needed. It was her second yellow of the tournament and she will now be forced to miss the upcoming match against the United States.

Swedish pressure finally paid off in the 64th minute. The Swedes reversed the ball from the right to the left with the ball coming to the feet of Linda Forsberg. She hit a right-footed inswinging cross to the far post. Therese Sjogran headed the ball back to the middle to an unmarked Dahlkvist, who blasted the ball into the net from only four yards out.

Korea's best chances seemed to come off of corner kicks, in spite of Sweden's height. In the 73rd minute, a Korean corner came into the six yard box. Both Ri Ye Gyong and Ri Un Hyang went up for the header, with it appearing that Ri U. H. making contact. The ball was headed toward the net, but Sara Thunebro was waiting on the line to clear it with her head.

In the 75th minute, Seger forced a turnover and sent the ball down the middle to Schelin. This time Schelin forced Hong to make a diving save on her low shot from 15 yards.

Korea tried to get an equalizer in the 80th minute as Ri Ye Gyong placed a cross into the box from the right side, but Lindahl anticipated nicely and grabbed the ball in front of Ra Un Sim.

Sweden was able to keep Korea from getting the ball up the field for most of the last ten minutes as time ticked away on the Koreans. It wasn't necessarily pretty, but Sweden had once again gotten the job done. Hedvig Lindahl earned the shutout for Sweden and Thunebro saved the day off the line late in the match. Meanwhile, Swedish forwards continued to struggle with their finishing touch.

The upside is Sweden will almost surely go through to the quarterfinals. The bad news is that Seger will miss the match against the United States, which could be very important for placement into the quarters.

Sweden will meet the United States on Wednesday, while Korea DPR, who are now virtually eliminated will meet Colombia.