Late header by Ilestedt clinches win for Sweden over South Africa

Amanda Ilestedt of Sweden tries to get a hold of the ball despite Áine O'Gorman and Katie McCabe (c) of Ireland

Goal hero Ilestedt in action against Ireland in a qualifer game Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Sweden achieved a late 2-1 victory over South Africa, coming from behind to secure their first win of the tournament.

The clash was the first game this World Cup were both sides scored and additionally marked the first instance where a nation successfully reversed a deficit to claim all three points.

South Africa took the lead thanks to Hildah Magaia's 48th-minute goal. However, a determined Swedish team rallied, equalizing with a Fridolina Rolfo strike in the 65th minute and sealing victory with a last-minute header from Amanda Ilestedt.

Enduring the rainy conditions in New Zealand's capital, the first half of the game was largely dominated by Sweden, although they struggled to convert their possession into clear-cut opportunities.

Their most promising chance came from Ilestedt, who sent a looping header over the bar in the 43rd minute, leaving the scoreline barren at half time.

Three minutes into the second half, the South African forward, Thembi Kgatlana, cut through Sweden's defense and unleashed a shot that was parried by goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, directly into the path of an advancing Magaia, who scored from close range.

Unfortunately, Magaia sustained an injury during the goal and had to be replaced.

The 65th minute saw Sweden equalize when Johanna Kaneryd's cross from the right found Rolfo via a touch from Lebohang Ramalepe, resulting in the ball going past South African keeper Kaylin Swart.

Substitute Caroline Seger, who made history by becoming the first Swedish woman to participate in five FIFA Women’s World Cups, threatened South Africa's defense in the 81st minute but couldn't find the net.

However, Ilestedt came through in the final minute, rising high to connect with Kosovare Asllani's well-placed corner and securing a dramatic win for Sweden.

After the match, Sweden's coach, Peter Gerhardsson, admitted that his team made some tactical and technical mistakes, but praised their resilience, saying, "It’s just nice to win though and we showed now that we can turn a match around."

South Africa's coach, Desiree Ellis, while expressing disappointment at the loss, said, "We’re really proud of the way that we played even though it was a loss."