Olympics: US women's football team crash to first defeat in 45 games

Four-time women's football Olympic champions the United States suffered their first defeat in 45 matches yesterday as they lost 3-0 to Sweden in their opener in Tokyo.

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(Stina Blackstenius 25, 54, Lina Hurtig 72)  

Stina Blackstenius scored twice and Lina Hurtig added a third to give 2016 silver medallists Sweden a dream start to their Group G campaign at a Tokyo Stadium devoid of fans due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The US, who meet New Zealand and Australia in their next two group games, hadn't lost since going down 3-1 to France in a friendly in January 2019.

US forward Megan Rapinoe, who came on as a substitute, said: "I thought we were a little bit nervous, a bit tight, doing dumb stuff."

It was just the second loss over 90 minutes for the US at the Olympics. They were beaten in their first game of the 2008 tournament, but still went on to win gold in Beijing.

"It's obvious we put ourselves in a big hole, but we're the only ones who can get ourselves out of it," said US coach Vlatko Andonovski.

"It's not going to be easy. We've got to get positive results in the next two games, but the fact there is still a chance, I know this team is not going to give up."

Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson warned his players not to become overconfident after their stunning performance.

"Yes, naturally (that can happen), but we also just know we can be happy for three points," he said.

Sweden shattered US hopes in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, a bitter exit that drove the Americans' run to a fourth World Cup title in 2019.

The US had won 22 of 23 games since Andonovski replaced Jill Ellis as coach in October 2019, with a 1-1 draw against the Swedes in April the only blemish.

"I can't remember the last time we gave up a goal, so to give up three is not great, but we know what we need to do to... get out of the group and go from there," said Rapinoe.

In the other Group G game, Australia pipped New Zealand 2-1. In Sapporo, Britain won their Group E opener against Chile 2-0, with striker Ellen White scoring twice.

In the group's other game, hosts Japan drew 1-1 with Canada, bronze medallists at the past two Olympics.

In Rifu, Brazil star Marta became the first woman footballer to score in five consecutive Olympics when she netted twice in a 5-0 thrashing of China in Group F, taking her tally to 12 goals at the Games.

European champions and 2019 World Cup runners-up the Netherlands thrashed Zambia 10-3 in the group's other game. - AFP, REUTERS