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Sweden 2 (Asllani 10, Jakobsson 21)>
England 1 (Kirby 31)
Sweden 2 (Asllani 10, Jakobsson 21)
England had to settle for fourth place in the World Cup after a bad opening half hour proved to be costly as they went down to defeat at the hands of Sweden in Nice.
England found themselves two behind in the opening quarter of the game although, were it not for a VAR controversy, would have been back on level terms at half time. In contrast, the Swedes defended superbly after the break to secure themselves a third place finish for the third time in the tournament's history.
It had been largely a sloppy start at the back from England, Carly Telford almost getting caught in possession in front of goal by Stina Blackstenius early on, and they were made to pay in the tenth minute, when Alex Greenwood miscued a clearance from a Fridolina Rolfo cross and Kosovare Asllani pounced on the loose ball, Telford getting a hand to her shot but it went in off the post.
England were in all sorts of trouble against the ball over the top of the defence and Sofia Jakobsson was inches away from making it two, outpacing the defence before her shot came back off the post, struck Telford's knee and went just wide.
The second goal was not too long in coming though and it came after Rolfo broke in space down the left and played the ball inside for Sofia Jakobsson who curled a delightful shot past a helpless Telford to double the lead.
England hit back with their first meaningful effort, a strike from outside the area by Lucy Bronze which was saved by Hedvig Lindahl, but they found a way back into the game on the half hour. A good ball picked out Fran Kirby on the right and she cut inside Magdalena Eriksson before planting a shot in off the far post.
Two minutes later, White received a ball into the middle from Beth Mead and turned past Linda Sembrant before drilling a shot pass Lindahl for what seemed to be the equaliser, but VAR was to intervene and rule that the striker had controlled with her arm in the midst of turning.
White then broke through for a shot which was blocked by Lindahl, bringing an end to a very eventful first half but with Sweden still ahead.
England tried to pick up the pace again after the break but Sweden were in no mood to concede again, marshalled by veteran duo Nilla Fischer and Caroline Seger who made it difficult for them to make any clear chances.
Kirby did momentarily get in behind the defence from a good pass by Jill Scott but the angle was too tight and her shot hit the side netting.
England brought on Karen Carney with seventeen minutes remaining for the final appearance of her career and she supplied enough good touches in that time to suggest that she has been underused during the course of the tournament.
White had a shot blocked late on but England remained shackled until two minutes from time, when Lindahl failed to deal properly with a corner. The ball dropped for Bronze to volley goalwards but Fischer was superbly positioned to head her powerful strike off the line.
The Swedes had shown little as an attacking force during the second half but they could have netted a third in bizarre fashion in injury time when Julia Zigiotti broke through into the area where both she and Houghton slipped over, Zigiotti picking herself up to shoot but Telford did well to deny her with a point blank save.
That was actually the last chance of the game and Swedish delight was evident at the final whistle, whilst England will be left to reflect on a tournament which promised to deliver so much at one stage, but eventually led to nothing.
England: Carly Telford, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Jade Moore, Steph Houghton, Abbie McManus (sub Rachel Daly 83mins), Nikita Parris (sub Karen Carney 73mins), Jill Scott, Ellen White, Fran Kirby, Beth Mead (sub Jodie Taylor 49mins).
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl, Hanna Glas, Linda Sembrant, Caroline Seger, Nilla Fischer, Magdalena Eriksson, Nathalie Bjorn (sub Amanda Ilestedt 69mins), Fridolina Rolfo (sub Lina Hurtig 26mins), Kosovare Asllani (sub Julia Zigiotti 45mins), Sofia Jakobsson, Stina Blackstenius.
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