Sweden, Netherlands record wins, France held by Jamaica

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Sweden pulled out a 2-1 victory over South Africa, while the Netherlands narrowly beat Portugal 1-0. However, France was held to a 0-0 draw by Jamaica at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup on Sunday, reported Xinhua.

Group F favorites France didn't deliver as expected at the damp Sydney Football Stadium and have much to do if they hope to clinch an elusive title.

In front of a 39,000-strong crowd, the world's fifth-ranked team, France, dominated the game but fell short in breaking through Jamaica's defenses. Underdogs Jamaica celebrated their first-ever point in the tournament.

Despite missing several key players, Jamaica's steadfast defense stood out. Their landmark performance, however, was marred when star striker Khadija Shaw was sent off in the final minutes after receiving her second yellow card.

France was left to rue several missed opportunities from Kadidiatou Diani, especially when her header hit both the crossbar and the left post in the 90th minute.

In Group E, defender Stefanie van der Gragt scored the only goal leading the 2019 runners-up, the Netherlands, to a victory over Portugal under a closed roof in Dunedin.

"The first game is always crucial in the tournament, and I think these three points are really beneficial for us," said 30-year-old van der Gragt.

Van der Gragt's 13th-minute header, the quickest goal of the tournament, separated the teams after a video review for offside.

Playing in their iconic orange kit, the Netherlands then implemented a lockdown defense strategy to stymie Portugal, who were making their World Cup debut.

The ninth-ranked Netherlands could have widened their lead shortly after, but Jill Roord's free header in the box sailed over the bar.

Portugal seemed unlikely to equalize until substitute Telma Encarnacao made a blistering run down the right flank in the 82nd minute. However, her subsequent shot on goal was denied by goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar.

The Netherlands managed to hold on, securing three points and a confidence boost ahead of a major match with titleholders, the United States, who beat them 2-0 in the 2019 final.

In Sunday's opening match, Amanda Ilestedt's 90th-minute goal shattered South Africa's dreams as world number three Sweden emerged victorious in the Group G contest.

Sweden struggled in Wellington's wet conditions during the first game of the tournament where both teams scored.

Despite a subpar performance, Sweden still controlled a scoreless first half with 71 percent of possession and eight corners.

But they were left stunned in the 48th minute when Hildah Magaia found the back of the net, giving South Africa hope of delivering the tournament's first major upset.

Sweden retaliated in the 65th minute when Fridolina Rolfo equalized before Ilestedt soared highest to land a perfect header from a corner in the dying stages.

"South Africa made it tough for us, but I think we grew into the game and improved," Ilestedt said. "We played better in the second half, but a victory in the opening game is what counts."

South Africa nearly registered their first-ever point in a World Cup, having failed to do so in their debut at the 2019 edition.

"We thought we could have had a better result," South Africa's coach, Desiree Ellis, said. "But the way we played, we are very proud of that. We stuck to the game plan."

World No. 2 Germany will face Morocco in the headline game on Monday.

  •  Women’s WC

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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