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Sweden stun holders USA to reach quarters

Reigning champions the USA are out of the Women’s World Cup after being stunned by Sweden 5-4 on penalties on a night of incredible drama in Melbourne.

USA dominated the 120 minutes but were denied by an inspired goalkeeping performance from Zecira Musovic as the match finished goalless.

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The drama only ratcheted up further in the shootout. Three USA players missed, including their footballing icon Megan Rapinoe on her last appearance on the world stage, before Sweden won in remarkable circumstances.

USA keeper Alyssa Naeher appeared to have saved Lina Hurtig’s effort at the second attempt, having pushed the initial effort up before clawing it out.

But after checking with the video assistant referee (VAR), referee Stephanie Frappart awarded the goal and sparked wild Sweden celebrations.

USA manager Vlatko Andonovski was not convinced the ball had crossed the line, despite technology confirming the goal.

“It’s a tough moment,” he said. “It’s a moment where it’s hard to go through, where you hope it didn’t cross the line. I see pictures and I still can’t see it now, but proves how cruel this game can be.”

Sweden go through to face Japan in the quarter-finals.

They were indebted to Musovic, who made 11 saves in a game where the USA looked more like the team which won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019 than the one which snuck through the group stage.

But they could not score and in the shootout Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara all missed, Rapinoe with what is her final action at a World Cup as she has announced she will retire at the end of the year.

It condemns the USA to their worst performance at the tournament. They had never previously failed to make it to the semi-finals.

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