The first quarter-final of the tournament involved the hosts and one of the shock teams of the competition.
Sweden were expected to go through to the last eight and succeeded after beating Finland and Italy along with a 1-1 draw with local rivals Denmark. I think that Sweden have been a good side but I think the crowd has played a big part in their performances.
Iceland weren’t expected to get through their group which involved Norway, Germany and Holland. In their first game Iceland got their first ever point in a major tournament when they got a 1-1 draw with Norway. They lost their second game to the seven time champions Germany 2-0, but it wasn’t a bad performance. In their final group game, they grabbed a 1-0 win to send them through as the best third place team in the competition.
Sweden started brightly and immediately put pressure on the opposition and with the crowd behind the Swedes, it was only a matter of time before they scored. It was also a nightmare start for Iceland when the ball fell kindly for Hammarstrom who fired across goal from outside the area.
After a few more minutes of non stop pressure, the second goal came from the winger Oqvist after she was relased by Schelin. Oqvist came rushing in ahead of the Icelandic keeper and slotted home despite the effort from the backtracking defender.
Lotta Schelin got a goal for herself in the 19th minute when her striker partner Asllani whipped a ball across the box which flicked off Jonsdottir to alert the Sweden number 8. Schelin was the first to react and tucked the ball in the near corner to put her country through to the semis.
Sweden were constantly threatening to break the record for the biggest win in a Women’s Euros. Lotta Schelin repeatedly made goods runs to open up the defence and get a few shots away to keep the goalie on her toes. She was caught offside a couple of times but it was all positive from a Swedish point of view.
Towards the end of the first half, Iceland had half a chance when they had a free kick punched away from the Swedish keeper. It fell to Vidarsdottir whose volley flied meters wide of the goal. There was also a slight concern for Pia Sundhage when her side’s captain Seger received treatment following a challenge from Brynjatsdottir. It turned out to be nothing more than a slight knock and she continued.
One of the last shots of the first period came from the star, Lotta Schelin, when she cut onto her stronger right foot and fired inches over the bar. This gave Iceland more to think about going into the break.
At the start of the second half, Sweden weren’t as fast paced as in previous games and Iceland took advantage by applying some of their own pressure with a couple of corners, although Sweden had a few chances themselves. I think that Sweden’s plan was to keep the ball and let Iceland chase the ball in the hot conditions.
Sweden had a free kick a few minutes into the second half and there was some confusion about who would take it. After all the build up, it was fired straight at the wall from the left back Thunebro. Following the blocked free kick, Fischer kept the pressure alive with a through ball but it only found the gloves of the keeper.
The hosts found their fourth just before the hour mark through Schelin. It was inevitable. Aslanni used her vision to pick out her strike partner who took one touch to control and touch to slot it calmly into the bottom corner. Sweden were starting to show off and started to play for fun, they played with a lot of confidence.
Mid way through the second half, the star player for Sweden was taken off with a view from Pia Sundhage to rest her for the semi final against either Germany or Italy. Schelin walked off the pitch to a standing ovation.
Towards the end of the game, Jonsdottir was subbed off to probably signal the end of her international career after nearly twenty years of representing her country. The captain has been a servant for her country at senior level as well as under 17’s and 21’s.
Also Thunebro had a chance to redeem herself from her poor previous set piece with another free kick. Thunebro’s shot was struck with plenty of power and Gunnarsdottir parried it away, and Iceland just about scrambled it away to safety.
Iceland’s best chance of the game came with five minutes to spare when Gunnarsdottir took a pass in her stride and she shot low but not that hard so it was an easy save for the Swedish number 1. Iceland didn’t have anything to cheer about came the end of the game but it was a longer journey in the tournament than anybody expected.
My woman of the match was Lotta Schelin who got herself two goals and one assist in the game. She constantly opened up the defence and created chances for herself and her team mates. I think that if Sweden are going to progress to the final and possibly even win it all then Schelin will have to be in the form of her life and they will need Aslanni to score more goals as well.
I also felt that Seger, who is the captain, played well against Iceland and she was the play maker of the side by playing balls in for Schelin to get on the end of. It was a good performance for the host nation but they will get a much bigger test in the semis which I think will be against Germany.