Sweden hold off Japan to reach Women's World Cup semis


Sweden held off a late Japan fightback to reach the semi-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup for the fifth time with a 2-1 win on Friday, leaving the tournament without a former winner in the last four.

Five days after ousting four-time champions the United States in the last 16, the Swedes dominated the 2011 title winners for most of the evening at Eden Park to set up a semi-final against Spain at the same stadium on Tuesday.

Defender Amanda Ilestedt gave Sweden the lead with her fourth goal of the tournament in the 32nd minute with Filippa Angeldal adding the second from the penalty spot just after the break.

Japan never gave up the fight but Riko Ueki missed a 76th-minute penalty and her fellow substitute Honoka Hayashi's goal 11 minutes later proved too late as Sweden held firm under immense stoppage-time pressure to progress.

"It's wonderful, obviously," Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson told Swedish radio.

"The game had everything. In terms of performance, we had our best of the tournament. It got very exciting, Japan are one of the best teams in the tournament ..."

Japan coach Futoshi Ikeda said Sweden had done a fine job stifling his midfield but he thought his players should hold their heads high.

"Our players grew at the World Cup," he said. "We lost this match but their work at this tournament is something that we should assess positively."

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