Football: Sweden beat Belgium 1-0 to set up Women's Euro semi with England

Sweden's Linda Sembrant (second from right) celebrates her goal with teammates. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Defender Linda Sembrant fired a stoppage-time winner to give Sweden a hard-fought 1-0 win over Belgium on Friday (July 22) and set up a Women's Euro 2022 semi-final against hosts England next Tuesday.

Belgium's game plan of containing the Swedes and hitting them on the break looked like it would see them force extra time, but the last of Sweden's 34 attempts on goal was forced home by Sembrant to send the Belgians crashing out.

The Swedes kept Belgium pinned back for most of the first half and should have taken the lead when Stina Blackstenius slotted the ball home in the 25th minute. However, a VAR review showed that she was just offside when Kosovare Asllani passed her the ball and the goal was chalked off.

The second half was almost identical with the Swedes pouring forward and the Belgium defence standing resolute, and goalkeeper Nicky Evrard pulled off a brilliant reflex save to deny Blackstenius in the 73rd minute.

Despite tiring as the game wore on, Belgium continued to threaten on the break and Sembrant and her defensive colleagues had to be on their toes, and they had no interest in playing another 30 minutes.

"We didn't want extra time," Sembrant told broadcaster SVT."We really pressed them in the second half, we wore them down more and more. The only thing that was missing was the goal."

It finally came in the second minute of stoppage time as Sweden won a corner from the left and Asllani fired it in towards the centre of the goal and it dropped at the far post to Nathalie Bjorn.

Her initial shot was blocked but Sembrant, who missed two of the group games through injury, reacted quickest to rifle the ball home to send the Swedes, who lost the final at last year's Tokyo Olympics to Canada on penalties, through to face the hosts in the last four.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.