CommBank Matildas defeated by Sweden in third-place playoff

The CommBank Matildas have fallen 2-0 to Sweden in the third-place playoff. Sweden won their fourth-ever bronze medal at a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in front of a sold-out Brisbane Stadium.

Tony Gustavsson named an unchanged lineup from the one that took on England in the semi-final on Wednesday, with Alanna Kennedy was unavailable for selection due to delayed concussion symptoms. Sweden, likewise, were unchanged from the team that lost 2-1 to Spain.

Sweden started on the front foot, holding the majority of possession in the first half. Mackenzie Arnold was called into action in the first minute and was not short of involvement throughout the game.

The best chances for the Matildas came from counter-attacks. Sam Kerr in particular was a constant presence when Sweden played the ball along their defence, as both she and Hayley Raso created Australia’s best opportunities in the half, forcing saves out of Zecira Musovic.

However, it was the Swedes who struck first. Clare Hunt was adjudged to have brought down Stina Blackstenius in the box after a VAR review and Fridolina Rolfo tucked away the resulting penalty.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 19: Clare Hunt of Australia and Stina Blackstenius of Sweden compete for the ball during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Third Place Match match between Sweden and Australia at Brisbane Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Brisbane / Meaanjin, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The Matildas had a burst of energy after the goal but were unable to create anything clear-cut. Sweden continued to have the better of the opportunities – Stina Blackstenius could have had two or three goals on another day. They were unable to convert and the Matildas went into the half-time break only one goal down.

It wasn’t long in the second half for Sweden to continue to assert their dominance and they soon doubled their lead.

Kosovore Asllani rifled the ball in from the edge of the area after some good work from Blackstenius, who had crossed it into her path.

The Matildas had an opportunity to claw one back after a free kick. Hunt managed to win the header and get it in the path of her centre-back partner Clare Polkinghorne, but her kick was straight at Musovic, who was able to save.

Australia were unable to convert their late chances and Sweden walked away deserved winners.

Despite the loss, the Matildas can walk away with their heads held high, after inspiring a nation and securing their best-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup™ finish.