Cup heats up as U.S. and Sweden reach quarters

Ross Houston
June 29, 2019

Already assured a spot in the round of 16 before the game, the United States finished atop its group and will head to Reims to face Spain on Monday.

On Sunday the tournament hosts needed extra-time to beat Brazil 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals for only the second time in their history.

When Spain conceded a fifth-minute penalty - Maria Leon bringing down Tobin Heath in the box - it seemed as if the USA would go on to accrue another healthy scoreline, just as it did in the group stages.

The penalty was confirmed after a VAR check and Rapinoe smashed the ball into the same corner with 15 minutes left to give the United States the tightest of wins.

"I hope it's wild and insane and the fans are insane and that there are tonnes of media around it and it's just a big spectacle", Rapinoe said of their last-eight tie on Saturday morning (Singapore time). "I felt we were going to win this game with some of the things we were doing with ball movement and possession", she said. "You have two heavy hitters meeting and this is everything you want".

Megan Rapinoe took the penalty kick for the U.S. and made no mistake, putting it into the bottom left corner of the net as the Spain goalkeeper dove in the exact opposite direction.

"I hope it's just a total sh*tshow circus", she continued.

In Paris, more than 38,000 fans saw Sweden edge out fifth-ranked Canada 1-0 at the Parc des Princes thanks to a solitary second-half goal scored by Stina Blackstenius, set up by Kosovare Asllani. Canada's Janine Beckie was awarded a penalty kick, but was stopped by Sweden's Hedvig Lindahl, who made a tremendous save. "If you'd been properly prepared and watched their recent games - and then re-watched their games - you would know that this team was going to cause the US trouble, and could beat them".

Peter Gerhardsson had named a weakened side against the US in Sweden's previous encounter to keep his side fresh, and his gamble paid off, though Canada didn't create much to concern the Scandinavians. "They released a new album and it will be heavy-going on Saturday so that will work just fine".

The last two quarter-final places were to be decided yesterday as Italy took on China in Montpellier and European champions the Netherlands met 2011 World Cup winners Japan in Rennes. France is hosting the World Cup and Canada was the host country in 2015, so there is a much higher demand for these tickets and this particular matchup this time around. In Paris on Monday night, the temperature remained close to 30°C after the match kicked off at 9pm local time and it is set to get hotter in the coming days.

Federation Internationale de Football Association said that "cooling breaks" might be needed during games to protect players from the effects of the heat wave gripping France.

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