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Sweden stun world champions USA in Olympic football start

Sweden stun world champions USA in Olympic football start

Agencies
Tokyo
The Tokyo Olympics started with a bang on Wednesday, after a one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Sweden routing women’s world champions the United States 3-0 in football.
Stina Blackstenius scored either side of half-time and Lina Hurtig added a third for the silver medallists from Rio 2016 – who famously eliminated the US in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out.
“It’s very good for us to have this start to the tournament and we can be very proud of how we played this game and take everything positive to the next game,” said Blackstenius.
The US saw a 44-match unbeaten streak shattered and will look to recover in Group G in three days time against New Zealand, who opened with a 2-1 loss to Australia.
“We did not play a very good game - and that is to take nothing away from Sweden, they played a great game,” said US star Megin Rapinoe. 
“They found a lot of space in our shape and were very clinical when they got in front of goal and did very well taking their chances.”
Japan hold Canada 1-1
Earlier, the Japanese kicked off their women’s Olympic football campaign with a 1-1 draw against Canada in their opening contest of the Games.
After a year’s delay, the women’s football tournament finally began at the Sopporo Dome in Hokkaido, and it could have gone better for the host nation, which is aiming for gold.
Japan’s Nadeshiko – the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions – had gone into the game as favourites after a warm-up run of good form ahead of Tokyo 2020.
But just six minutes after kick-off, Canada’s veteran captain Christine Sinclair, who is the all-time leading international scorer for men or women, blasted her 187th career goal past Japan’s Ikeda Sakiko after the ball rebounded off the post. The goal came in 38-year-old Sinclair’s 300th appearance with the Canadian national team.
Canada continued to attack and, by half-time, they’d had had more than 60 per cent of the possession. The London 2012 and Rio 2016 bronze medalists, led by coach Bev Priestman, aim to upgrade to gold with Sinclair making her fourth and final Olympic appearance.
The second half opened in equally dramatic fashion with a collision between Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe and Japan striker TANAKA Mina. Play was stopped for several minutes while an emotional Labbe lay on the ground before she recovered (for the time being, though she left the game later) to save the ensuing penalty from Tanaka.
A late charge from Japan, led by captain Kimagi Saki, saw Arsenal’s Iwabushi Mana hit the target with a long-range strike in the 84th minute after fending off an attack by Canada’s defenders Kadeisha Buchanan and Shelina Zadorsky.
Japan’s best result in women’s football at an Olympic Games was silver at London 2012, and the team failed to qualify for Rio 2016. Coach Takakura Asako stated, ahead of Tokyo 2020, that she wants to win gold for her nation this time around.
Meanwhile, Australia scored a 2-1 win over New Zealand at Tokyo Stadium.
Two first-half goals from midfielder Tameka Yallop and captain Sam Kerr gave the Matildas the edge over their trans-Tasman rivals despite a late consolation goal from Gabi Rennie, who made her debut for New Zealand.
In another game, Great Britain comfortably beat Chile 2-0. Ellen White bagged a brace, with assists from Lauren Hemp and Lucy Bronze.

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