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Sweden set up England semi-final with late victory over Belgium
Linda Sembrant netted the winner in stoppage time.
Linda Sembrant’s dramatic stoppage-time winner earned Sweden a 1-0 victory over Belgium and the chance to face England in the semi-finals of Euro 2022.
Stina Blackstenius was denied a goal by VAR midway through the first half and Sweden were made to wait until the dying seconds to see off a valiant Belgian effort at Leigh Sports Village.
Wave after wave of Sweden attack in the second period had brought no joy to that point, with goalkeeper Nicky Evrard proving to be their nemesis.
But heartbreak for the Red Flames came in the second minute of stoppage time when Sembrant smashed home to send Sweden through to their ninth Euros semi-final.
Sweden were the first to make their mark on this quarter-final tie and almost got off to a flyer when Filippa Angeldal’s effort from distance had to be turned wide by Evrard in the sixth minute.
Sweden’s high press started to cause problems for the Belgian defence and some slack play outside the area gifted Angeldal another chance before her first-time effort sailed over the bar.
Belgium have called upon Evrard several times during this tournament and she was on hand again to keep the scores level when she parried Kosovare Asllani’s header to prevent what looked to be a certain goal 14 minutes in.
Blackstenius thought she had scored her second goal of the tournament when she latched on to to Asllani’s through ball before tucking home, but a VAR intervention judged her to be offside by the smallest of margins, much to the relief of the Belgian faithful.
The Red Flames failed to make any sort of inroads into the Swedish defence, but their first real sniff came on the half-hour mark when Justine Vanhaevermaet dragged her shot harmlessly wide.
A corner late in the first half caused a goalmouth scramble and Evrard did well to deny a combination of efforts from Blackstenius and Amanda Ilestedt, but the women in yellow had nothing to show for their 45 minutes of dominance.
The second period settled into a pattern much like the first, as Sweden pushed to break the deadlock with early efforts from Fridolina Rolfo and Angeldal.
Belgium had never reached a major tournament knockout stage before and their stubborn defence started to frustrate their opponents, as Evrard was again on hand to stop a close-range header from Blackstenius from bulging the net.
Belgium’s resistance was finally broken in the closing moments when Sembrant rifled in an effort from close range following a period of pinball inside the box after a corner caused chaos.