Despite the best efforts of both sides to get the better of one another in Portugal, neither could find the crucial goal as the tussle ended
Sweden won their first game 1-0 against Australia, while China lost their opener 1-0 to the Netherlands. This means China were all but forced to get three points if they wanted to remain in the running for the Algarve Cup trophy.
Both teams started with a number of changes from the starting line-ups that played in their last outings. Sweden started with Hilda Carlén in goal instead of usual stopper, Hedvig Lindahl, and Carlén was tested on a number of occasions at the start of the first half. It was a Chinese team that took control of the game from the start and had a number of good efforts. Ren Guixin was the first to have a go, but her effort was wide.
Wang Shuang then had a freekick that tested Carlén, but the Swede managed to turn it behind for a corner, which didn’t amount to much. Not long after, Yang Li forced Carlén into a double save. A few minutes later Carlén was called into action again, as Wang Shanshan had another double effort at goal.
Sweden weren’t without their chances, but it was very much 'close but no cigar', with the final ball not finding the intended target. The biggest opportunity in this period came to Lotta Schelin, who was about inches away from connecting with a great cross.
However, after the first 25 minutes, Sweden got more and more into the game, with Schelin especially looking like she had a goal in her. But again the final ball lacked something, and when it finally found Schelin, the Chinese defenders managed to get a last ditch tackle or block to deny the prolific goalscorer. Sweden also had a number of corners, with Magdalena Eriksson nearly scoring directly from one and on another occasion nearly heading one in, but it went just over the bar.
Struggle for chances
The second half wasn’t as action packed as the first, with many substitutions disrupting the pace. Sweden were very much in the driving seat. Within the first three minutes of the half, both Elin Rubensson, who was subbed on at the break, and Caroline Seger had good chances but neither really threatened Zhao Lina in China’s goal.
Rubensson, who looked lively the first ten minutes of the second half, had to be brought off in the 59th minute, along with China’s Wang Yan as both sustained injuries. Neither team really got close to a goal in the second half, with one of the best chances coming in injury time on an Eriksson corner, which Hanna Folkesson headed over. With neither team able to find a goal, the match ended 0-0.
The game may have ended 0-0, but it certainly had it’s moments – especially in the first half. With this result Sweden top Group C, with a slender one point lead over Australia and the Netherlands, while China are last with one point. Up next is Sweden-Netherlands and China-Australia on Monday.