World Cup Report: Sweden 5 - 0 Italy

Sweden's Amanda Ilestedt competes for the ball with Heather Payne of Ireland during the World Cup qualifier in Tallaght in October 2021.

Goalscorer Amanda Ilestedt in action against Ireland in qualifying. Credit: Al Robinson (ETPhotos)

Sweden are safely through to the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup after claiming a dominant 5-0 win over Italy in Wellington on Saturday. 

First-half goals from Amanda Ilestedt, Fridolina Rolfo and Stina Blackstenius were followed by another from Ilestedt early in the second-half before a late Rebecka Blomqvist strike capped it off.

The Swedes, who topped Ireland's World Cup qualifying group, can look forward to advancing as group winners barring a freak ten-goal swing to the Italians on the final day's play.

In spite of the final scoreline, Italy showed a more threatening approach in the early stages of the game but failed to cause any concern to Sweden’s defence.

Sofia Cantore had an attempt from the right saved after two minutes but from there a flurry of set-pieces gave Italy their best hope of scoring.

Several free kicks were awarded, especially down the wings, but the Italians couldn’t find an end product and Sweden were quick to clear their lines.

Lucia Del Guglielmo had their only decent chance of the half when she powered her shot from the right goalwards but it was straight at goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, who made the simple save.

Sweden began to pick up the pace and it was a set piece just five minutes before half-time that helped them snatch the advantage.

Jonna Andersson whipped a perfectly angled corner into the box that was met by Ilestedt, whose powerful leap allowed her to head the ball cleanly into the top corner.

Sweden grew in confidence and doubled the lead moments before the half-time whistle from another corner kick. This time, it was Rolfo who found the net.

Andersson again produced a brilliant ball into the box from the set-piece but it was a messy finish as the ball bounced into the goal off Rolfo’s knee.

Barbara Bonansea appeared to have gotten a touch to it as she attempted to defend on the goal line but Rolfo claimed the goal and Sweden’s lead doubled. 

Just one minute later, Arsenal’s top scorer from the season just finished, Blackstenius, found the net to make it three.

Italy were caught out when Johanna Kaneryd was given space along the right to power forward before crossing into the box.

Goalkeeper Francesca Durante was in a poor position at the right-hand post and had no chance to make an attempt at saving from Blackstenius, who was in the middle to meet the cross before slotting it into the net past three Italian defenders.

Such a dominant lead going into half time was always going to blight any potential comeback from Italy and Sweden made it four just five minutes after the restart. 

It was a huge sense of déjà vu as, again, Ilestedt headed it in from an Andersson corner. Another powerful jump above the Italian defence allowed Arsenal’s new recruit to head into the net.

A number of substitutions from both sides past the hour mark didn’t affect the game too much, with Italy trying their best to avoid further upset.

Elena Linari timed her challenge well to prevent Kaneryd’s dash into the box, while Cecilia Salvai prevented Blackstenius from getting her second of the night with a clean tackle to clear.

The game looked like it would settle at 4-0, but Italy conceded their fifth deep into stoppage time when sub Olivia Schough lofted an unexpected long ball from the back.

Wolfsburg forward Blomqvist met the ball around the middle of the park before driving it forward through the muddled defence and slotting home. 

The win is Sweden’s biggest at a World Cup since 1991, when they claimed an 8-0 victory over Japan, and they will hope to keep the momentum going on Wednesday when they meet Argentina.

Italy will have a job on their hands in their bid to finish in the top two when they meet third-place South Africa in Wellington at the same time in a winner-takes-all clash.

Sweden: Zecira Musovic; Jonna Andersson, Nathalie Bjorn, Magdalena Eriksson, Amanda Ilestedt; Filippa Angeldal, Fridolina Rolfo (Olivia Schough 63), Elin Rubensson (Caroline Seger 75), Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (Sofia Jakobsson 75); Kosovare Asllani (Madelen Janogy 63), Stina Blackstenius (Rebecka Blomqvist 89).

Subs not used: Tove Enblom, Jennifer Falk, Anna Sandberg, Hanna Lundkvist, Linda Sembrant, Hanna Bennison, Lina Hurtig.

Italy: Francesca Durante; Lisa Boattin, Lucia Di Guglielmo (Martina Lenzini 59), Elena Linari, Cecilia Salvai; Barbara Bonansea (Annamaria Serturini 59), Arianna Caruso (Valentina Cernoia 71), Giulia Dragoni (Giada Greggi 59), Manuela Giugliano; Chiara Beccari (Valentina Giacinti 75), Sofia Cantore.

Subs not used: Laura Giuliani, Rachele Baldi, Elisa Bartoli, Benedetta Orsi, Emma Severini, Benedetta Glionna, Cristiana Girelli.

Referee: Cheryl Foster (Wales)

Attendance: 21,143 Player of the Match: Stina Blackstenius (Sweden).