Sweden and the Netherlands produced the most effective implementation of their game plans to emerge as the most prolific sides at the end of the group league stage of the women’s football in Tokyo Olympics. Sweden, who convincingly beat the four time World and Olympics champion United States on its way to becoming the group G topper, appeared the most serious contender for the gold it had missed in Rio de Janeiro.
The previous edition’s silver medallist made it three wins from as many matches by easily getting past a feeble New Zealand 2-0 in the final outing of the group on Tuesday. Sweden was the only team in the group league stage to net three wins and the full quota of points to progress to the knock-out quarterfinals where it will meet host and 2011 World Cup winner Japan, which made it through on the virtue of being one of the two best third-placed teams.
READ MORE: Women’s football in Tokyo 2020: Misfiring U.S. reaches quarters, sets up Dutch clash
The Netherlands, which started off with a huge 10-3 win against the African qualifier Zambia, rounded off with an equally impressive 8-2 drubbing of the former Asian champion China at Yokohama. The European champion, which played a 3-3 draw with South American giant Brazil in the second round, ended with an unmatched league tally of 21 goals in favour while its Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema, who came in as a second half substitute against China, scored twice to set a new record of eight goals in a women’s Olympics event. Barcelona midfielder Lieke Martens also netted twice as did the Bayern Munich forward Lineth Beerensteyn, while Shanice van de Sanden and Victoria Pelova found the target once each to complete the Chinese demolition.
The Netherlands set up a quarterfinal clash with the United States, which saw its 44-match unbeaten run ending with 0-3 loss against Sweden in the first match of the tournament. The United States managed to progress to the knock-outs relying on the 6-1 thrashing of a below-par New Zealand in the second round. The Americans played a goalless draw with Australia in the final round and that was enough to see them finish second on a better goal difference after the two finished tied on four points each. Brazil, which beat the Zambians 1-0 in the last round, finished second to the Dutch and will take on group E runner-up Canada in the quarters.
Great Britain, playing for the first time as a single representative of four British football associations, finished on top of Group E after playing a 1-1 draw with Canada, which led till the 85th minute before Nichelle Prince scored an own goal to force the draw. The Britons will be taking on the Aussies in the last-eight stage.
QUARTERFINALS (all matches on July 30):
At Kashima: Great Britain vs Australia
At Saitama: Sweden vs Japan
At Yokohama: Netherlands vs United States
At Rifu: Canada vs Brazil.
GROUP LEAGUE RESULTS (Final round):
Group E: Chile 0 lost to Japan 1 (Tanaka 77), Canada 1 (Leon 55) drew with Great Britain 1 (Prince 85-og).
Group F: Netherlands 8 (Van de Sanden 12, Beerensteyn 37, 45+2, Martens 47, 70, Miedema 65, 76, Pelova 71) bt China 2 (Wang Shanshan 28, Wang Yanwen 69), Brazil 1 (Andressa 19) bt Zambia 0.
Group G: New Zealand 0 lost to Sweden 2 (Anvegard 17, Janogy 29), United States 0 drew with Australia 0.