Stina Blackstenius fired Sweden into the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup but they needed a penalty save from Hedvig Lindahl to beat Canada 1-0 in Paris.
A slow-burner finally came to life in the second half, with Kosovare Asllani at the heart of it. Asllani raced downfield and played an inch-perfect pass for Blackstenius to score – with the game’s first shot on target just shy of the hour mark.
But it was also Asllani who was penalised for handball eight minutes later, before Lindahl denied Janine Beckie from the spot.
The crowd had taken to Mexican waves to entertain themselves during a dismal opening half but there were plenty of talking points after the break.
Canada were the first to finally have a shot, with Christine Sinclair bending a free-kick wide in the 53rd minute.
But Sweden broke the deadlock just before the hour when Asllani charged down the left before sliding the ball across for the on-running Blackstenius to chip it over Stephanie Labbé.
That brought Canada to life and they had their chance with a little over 20 minutes to go when Desiree Scott’s shot struck Asllani on the arm from point-blank range.
Beckie stepped up and struck her penalty well but not well enough to beat the quick dive of Lindahl, who was soon swamped by teammates.
Sweden then thought they had a penalty of their own when Ashley Lawrence went through the back of Fridolina Rolfö but VAR determined there was an offside in the buildup.
The decision offered Canada some hope, though they rarely looked likely to capitalise as Adriana Leon and Shelina Zadorsky squandered late chances.