Sweden stun US 3-0 in women's football at Olympics
Tokyo: Stina Blackstenius scored a pair of goals and Sweden once again stunned the United States at the Olympics with a 3-0 victory Wednesday in the women's football tournament.
The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world and the favorites to win gold in Tokyo, were riding a 44-match unbeaten streak heading into the match.
But Sweden, ranked No. 5, has been the U.S. team's nemesis of sorts in recent years. The Swedes bounced the Americans from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in the quarterfinals, the earliest U.S. Olympic exit ever.
Then in April, Sweden played the United States to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, which snapped a winning streak dating back to January 2019, when the Americans lost to France in the run-up to the World Cup.
Blackstenius' header into the far corner off a cross from Sofia Jakobsson in the 26th minute gave Sweden the first-half lead.
The United States came out stale, with its best chance of the opening half coming in the final moments when Rose Lavelle's shot hit the post. Coach Vlatko Andonovski made changes for the second half, subbing in Carli Lloyd for Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz for Sam Mewis.
But Blackstenius scored again in the 54th minute, beating goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, as the Americans continued to struggle. Lina Hurtig then scored in the 72nd.
The loss was the first for the United States under Andonovski, who took over when former coach Jill Ellis stepped down following the team's World Cup victory in France.
The Swedes were without Magda Eriksson because of injury. The team said she has been training, but because of the compact schedule of the tournament she was held out of the opener.
Tokyo is Sweden's seventh Olympics. After eliminating the Americans on penalties in the quarterfinals five years ago, the Swedes went on to win the silver medal, losing to Germany 2-1 in the final.
The United States has four Olympic gold medals, more than any other nation. The team is vying to become the first to win Olympic gold following a World Cup title.
Sweden now leads Group G heading into Saturday's game against Australia in Saitama, while the United States faces New Zealand. The top two teams in the group advance the knockout round.
Meanwhile, Ellen White scored a pair of goals and Britain opened the Olympic women's football tournament with a 2-0 victory over Chile on Wednesday. Lauren Hemp's header put the ball in front of White for a close-in goal in the 18th minute. White's second goal was a volley to the far post in the 75th.
Chile, ranked No. 37 in the world, was making its Olympic debut. Known as La Roja, Chile qualified for Tokyo by beating Cameroon 2-1 in a two-legged intercontinental playoff.
Britain's roster for Tokyo is composed mostly of English players, but Kim Little and Caroline Weir are from Scotland and Sophia Ingle is from Wales.
Because British Olympic teams include Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, all four must be in agreement to participate. The only other Olympics that has included a British team was London in 2012.
England, ranked No. 6, was among the top three UEFA finishers at the 2019 World Cup, which earned Britain its spot.
Britain faces Japan and Chile plays Canada on Saturday in Sapporo as group play continues.
Meanwhile, Marta became the first player to score in five straight Olympics and Brazil beat China 5-0 on Wednesday in the women's football tournament.
Marta finished with a pair of goals for Brazil, which is ranked No. 7 in the world. Debinha, Andressa Alves and Beatriz also scored. A six-time FIFA Player of the Year, Marta has 111 international goals, more than any Brazilian player, male or female. After her goal in the ninth minute, Debinha added another in the 22nd to put Brazil up 2-0.
Marta added her second goal in the 74th minute before Alves scored from the