Sweden set up a Women’s World Cup last-16 showdown with the United States after a Rebecka Blomqvist header and an Elin Rubensson penalty gave them a 2-0 win over Argentina on Wednesday.
Blomqvist headed home in the 66th minute on a cold and wet night in Hamilton and substitute Rubensson added a last-minute spot kick as Sweden made it three wins out of three to finish top of Group G.
The result also confirmed Argentina’s elimination, as South Africa’s 3-2 win over Italy took the African champions through in second place and handed them a last-16 tie against the Netherlands.
Sweden, who had already beaten the South Africans 2-1 with a last-minute winner and then hammered Italy 5-0, will play holders the USA in Melbourne on Sunday.
They were already through to the last 16 before this game, so Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson decided to make nine changes to his line-up.
Key forwards Fridolina Rolfo and Stina Blackstenius were among the players rested, with the centre-back pairing of Magdalena Eriksson and Amanda Ilestedt the only starters from the Italy game to keep their places.
Argentina had to claim a first ever Women’s World Cup win in 12 attempts to stand a chance of progressing but the world’s 28th-ranked team lacked the quality to break down the Swedish defence.
Olivia Schough had Sweden’s best chances in the first half, initially from a free kick that was saved and then with a header off target from a Sofia Jakobsson cross.
As wind and rain buffeted the crowd of almost 18,000 after half time, Sweden got the breakthrough midway through the second half.
Jakobsson, who plays in the USA for San Diego Wave, delivered an inviting ball in from the right and Blomqvist simply could not miss.
It was a second goal in as many games for the Wolfsburg forward, who will hope to have done enough here to keep her place in the starting line-up against the USA.
Blomqvist then won her side the penalty at the death when she was wrestled to the ground in the box by Gabriela Chavez and, Rubensson netted from the spot to wrap up the victory.
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