Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Sweden squeeze past brave Banyana

Ilestedt's late header breaks Banyana hearts.

Brave Banyana Banyana had their hearts shattered by Sweden on Sunday, Amanda Ilestedt heading in a last minute winner to give the world’s third-ranked team a 2-1 Group G Fifa Women’s World Cup victory over South Africa at the Wellington Regional Stadium in New Zealand.

Sweden had been a threat from set pieces all game, but this was hard on Banyana, who had held their own against a European side full of star names, and had even threatened a stunning upset when Hildah Magaia bravely knocked in the opening goal in the 48th minute.

Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfe, however, levelled in the 66th minute and Sweden did ultimately find the winner, their extra height causing problems for Banyana from corners throughout.

Banyana can take heart from their performance, however, as they still search for a first point at a Fifa World Cup finals, with games to come against Argentina and Italy.

The pattern of the game was set from the start, with Sweden on the front foot and controlling posession, while South Africa looked to the pace of Thembi Kgatlana and Jermaine Seoposenwe to hit the European side on the break.

It soon became clear that Sweden were targeting Sibulele Holweni with the pace of Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, but while she often got the better of the Banyana left back, the winger’s final ball lacked precision.

Banyana did have a threat of their own at times. In the 6th minute, Bongeka Gamede strode forward from defence and played a sublime ball to Seoposenwe, who crossed for Kholosa Biyana, but she blazed well over.

In the 17th minute, Banyana captain Refiloe Jane tried on audacious 30 metre chip over Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, but the ball landed on the top of the net.

Sweden were a threat from corners, piling pressure on Banyana goalkeeper Kaylin Swart in the penalty area, courtesy of Jonna Andersson’s inswinging deliveries. Mostly Swart stood firm, getting to the ball first through a crowd of players.

In the 44th minute, however, Sweden nearly struck, as Ilestedt headed an Andersson corner just over the bar. And in first half stoppage time Sweden went close again, Elin Rubensson firing just wide from the edge of the box.

Magaia stuns Sweden

But it was Banyana who came out firing after the break, and in the 48th minute Kgatlana showed a stunning turn of pace to race through onto Jane’s flick and cut inside, firing in a shot that Musovic could only push into the path of Magaia, who bundled the ball into the net, injuring herself in the process.

Magaia had to go off with an injury to her hand in the 57th minute, replaced by Gabriela Salgado.

In the 66th minute, Sweden drew level and the problems for Banyana again started down the right, with Kaneryd this time finding a good cross. Banyana defender Lebohang Ramalepe looked set to clear the danger, but she missed her kick and the ball hit the advancing Fridolina Rolfo before rolling agonisingly past Swart and into the net.

Sweden never really looked like finding a winner, but they did increase the pressure on Banyana towards the end, and Arsenal defender Ilestedt had the final say.

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