Stina Blackstenius scored a pair of goals and Sweden once again stunned the United States at the Olympics with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday.
The Americans, ranked No 1 in the world and the favorites to win gold in Tokyo, were on a 44-match unbeaten streak heading into the match.
But Sweden have often been a nemesis for the Americans in recent years. The Swedes beat the Americans on penalties in the quarter-finals at the Rio Games in 2016, the earliest US Olympic exit ever for the women’s team.
Then in April, Sweden played the United States to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, which snapped a winning streak dating back to January 2019, when the Americans lost to France in the run-up to the World Cup.
Blackstenius’ header in the 26th minute gave Sweden the first-half lead. The United States came out stale, with their best chance of the opening half coming in the final moments when Rose Lavelle’s shot hit the post. USA coach Vlatko Andonovski made changes for the second half, subbing on Carli Lloyd for Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz for Sam Mewis. But Blackstenius scored again in the 54th minute, beating goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, as the Americans continued to struggle. Lina Hurtig then scored in the 72nd.
The loss was the first for the United States under Andonovski, who took over when Jill Ellis stepped down following the team’s World Cup victory in France.
Tokyo is Sweden’s seventh Olympics. After eliminating the Americans on penalties in the quarter-finals five years ago, the Swedes went on to win the silver medal, losing to Germany 2-1 in the final.
The United States have four Olympic gold medals, more than any other nation. The team are vying to become the first to win Olympic gold following a World Cup title.
Sweden now lead Group G heading into Saturday’s game against Australia in Saitama, while the United States face New Zealand. The top two teams in the group advance to the knockout round.