TOKYO, July 21 (Reuters) - A pair of goals from Swedish forward Stina Blackstenius spelled catastrophe for the U.S. women’s national team on Wednesday, as the four-time Olympic gold medallists suffered a shock 3-0 defeat in their Tokyo 2020 debut.
Fifth-ranked Sweden put the pressure on almost immediately with three shots in the first eight minutes, while the four-time Olympic gold medallists showed little sign of the stellar unbeaten run they have enjoyed since 2019.
Blackstenius converted in minute 25, rocketing a header past U.S. keeper Alysssa Naeher with an assist from Sofia Jakobsson. The goalie had five saves in the first half as a dominant Swedish forward line thrashed the Americans’ defences.
The addition of veteran midfielder Julie Ertz did little to revive the U.S. in the second half, as Blackstenius again scored in minute 54, and midfielder Lina Hurtig heaped on more pain to giver her side a three-goal cushion midway through the second half.
The match was personal for Team USA: The Swedes famously knocked the four-time World Cup winners out of the Olympic tournament on penalties in the quarter-finals in 2016. But their much hoped-for revenge in front of 48,000 empty seats inside the Tokyo Stadium was not to be.
The United States next faces New Zealand, while Sweden plays Australia in the group stage on Saturday. (Reporting by Amy Tennery in Tokyo; Editing by Hugh Lawson)