Sweden edged past Japan 2-1 to make it into the semi-finals of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
It was the best performance of the tournament from Peter Gerhardsson’s side, who had scraped through against defending champions the United States on penalties in the previous round.
In the first half, Sweden dominated possession and managed to be much more threatening in front of goal, with 11 shots, four on target.
Japan, on the other hand, didn’t test Zecira Musovic once in the first 45 minutes.
Sweden were always going to use set-pieces as a way to get at Japan, and their opener in the 32nd minute came after Kosovare Asllani’s free kick was initially punched away by Ayaka Yamashita.
The Swedes however managed to keep the ball alive, with Magdalena Eriksson eventually finding Amanda Ilestedt, who pounced for a powerful finish.
Futoshi Ikeda made a change at half-time, bringing on Jun Endo at half-time, but Sweden started the second-half just as strongly.
From a corner, a penalty was given after the ball hit Fuka Nagano’s hand from an Ilestedt header.
Referee Esther Staubli missed it as it happened, but she was called to take a look at the VAR monitor and quickly deemed that Nagano made herself bigger.
Sweden took advantage of the call, and Filippa Angeldahl hit a low, powerful shot to double their lead.
Japan, the 2011 World Cup winners, grew into the game as the half progressed, and they were awarded a penalty after Riko Ueki fell in the box, though the replay showed that it may have been simulation.
Ueki herself took the penalty, but was unable to convert it as she hit the woodwork.
Late on, Eriksson shoved Aoba Fujino over on the edge of the penalty area, giving Japan a late set-piece opportunity.
Fujino’s shot hit the crossbar and then the back of Musovic, but Japan continued play.
Sweden failed to clear their lines, and Honoka Hayashi thumped in a low shot from 10 yards out.
Sweden will play Spain in the last four after Jorge Vilda’s side beat the Netherlands 2-1 earlier in the day.