Sweden 1-0 Belgium: Late winner sets up semi-final with England to end profligate Swedes’ frustrations

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 (PA)
(PA)

Sweden left it late to secure their place in the Women’s Euro 2022 semi-finals - and a date with hosts England.

Linda Sembrant’s stoppage-time finish from one of countless goalmouth scrambles finally broke Belgium’s fierce resistance in front of over 7,000 fans in Leigh.

It looked like extra-time would be required, forcing the victor through at least another 30 minutes ahead of Tuesday’s match-up in Sheffield, which would have certainly suited England after their own lengthy exploits against Spain.

Sweden poured 34 shots on the goal of the fantastic Belgium keeper Nicky Evrard, who denied Arsenal striker Stina Blackstenius’ close-range header with a particularly smart reflex stop, in what was a largely frustrating and fruitless display.

Too often, the Olympic silver medallists and overwhelming favourites against a side in the Euros knockouts for the first time resorted to shooting from distance or swiping at imperfect opportunities despite their dominance.

Belgium were smart in possession and slowed the game down at opportune moments but failed to land a blow of their own as they sank increasingly deeper in the second half.

In truth, the Red Flames were fortunate not to concede earlier as Blackstenius rolled home a one-on-one before the break only to be called back for the sort of narrow offside call only VAR could spot.

Sweden grabbed the winner in the second of three minutes stoppage time after a corner whipped under Evrard’s crossbar was deflected to Nathalie Bjorn. Evrard parried her effort, only for it to land at Sembrant’s feet and the Juventus defender made no mistake.

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