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Thailand improves but still no match for powerhouse Sweden

NICE, France — Following their 13-0 thrashing by the United States Thailand faced another impossible task in Sweden. In front of an announced crowd of 9,354 at the Stade de Nice, Thailand suffered a slightly more favorable 5-1 defeat.

“I have never won a match before playing it,” Sweden head coach Peter Gerhardsson said after the game when asked about Thailand’s 13-0 defeat to the United States. “What you can do is prepare for a game and look the potential outcomes.”

Sweden did not feel that Thailand’s opening game would have any impact on this match. Said Gerhardsson: “Absolutely nothing.

“We in the coaching team, we planned this precisely the same way we plan every other match.”

Sweden had its first effort in the third minute go wide, with striker Kosovare Asllani seeing a header inside to box go wide. It was, however, just a prelude of what would come shortly after because in the fifth minute, Elin Rubensson swung a free kick in from the right that was headed across the line by Linda Sembrant. 

Despite the early goal, there was almost a desperation in Sweden’s attacks at this early stage. The Blågult knew that they had to run up the score after the USWNT beat Thailand 13-0

The second goal finally arrived in the 18th minute. Thai goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing failed to control a header by Lina Hurtig, which allowed Asllani to score from short distance. 

Sweden could have had more goals at this stage, but the Blågult struggled to convert the final pass in the penalty box on several occasions. 

Sweden finally scored its third. This time Fridolina Rolfö was the scorer whose shot from 20 yards out was simply too hot to handle for keeper Boonsing. 

The second half started with more chances for Sweden. But once again the Scandinavians were not efficient in front of Thailand’s goal and wasted several high caliber opportunities with the biggest falling to Hurtig in the 56th, but her header inside the six-yard box was wide of the target. 

And Thailand? The Thai managed to stay compact in defense and after the 60-minute mark even managed to break out of Sweden’s grip on several occasions. 

Trying to counter-attack Thailand produced their best chance in the 67th minute. But Swedish goalkeeper Hedwig Lindhal rushed out of the box to take the ball off Thai forward Silawan Intamee.

Maybe that chance was a wakeup call for Sweden. The Blågult now increased their pressure in the final third and in the 80th minute finally scored their fourth goal. 

Magdalena Eriksson’s cross from the left found Lena Hurtig unmarked 12-yards out and her thundering header beat keeper Boonsing.

“We were prepared and knew that we would be in possession for the majority of the match,” forward Kosovare Asllani said after the game. “Hence, we practised it ahead of the game,” she added.

Despite their dominance, Sweden let one slip through. In the 89th minute, Thailand scored its first goal of the tournament. Midfielder Kanjana Sung-ngoen escaped Sweden’s defence on the right broke into the area and then beat Swedish keeper Lindahl with a low drive.

“This goal meant a lot to us, it was a difficult goal,” Thai head coach Srathongvian said after the game. “Playing a great team like Sweden it meant so much. This goal made us smile, laugh and happy,” she added.

“Even if we scored one today we need to develop and get closer to other teams,” Srathongvian said. “Play better so we can enjoy the game more,” she added.

Sweden’s head coach, in turn, was not to happy about the conceded goal. Said Gerhardsson: “Well there are worse situations when the opponent breaks away.”

“We managed to contain those situations before, we knew that Thailand can break forward,” Gerhardsson said. “It was disappointing but taught us a lesson that those things can happen quickly,” he added.

But that was not the end of the action. In injury time Natthakarn Chinwong handled the ball in the box. Referee Salima Mukansanga had missed the incident initially, but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) spotted the incident, and Elin Rubensson stepped up to convert the penalty. 

It was the final goal of a contest during which Thailand was much improved from its first match, but the outcome was never truly in doubt. 

Sweden (4-2-3-1)

Lindahl – Eriksson, Sembrant, Fischer, Glas – Seger (Schough, 68′), Rubensson – Rolfö (Janogy, 46′), Asllani, Hurtig – Anvegard (M. Larsson, 78′) 

Thailand (4-5-1)

Boonsing – Srangthaisong, Sornsai, Chinwong, Phancha – Thongsombut (Srimanee, 57′, Waenngoen, 81′), Nildhamrong, Kueanpet, Intamee (Chuchuen, 90′), Dangda – Sungngoen

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