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Sweden will play Germany for a place in the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 final after making light work of Iceland in Halmstad.
There was an air of inevitability about this last-eight encounter from the moment Marie Hammarström sent the vast majority of the Örjans vall crowd into delirium after just three minutes. Sweden had failed to win a UEFA Women's EURO knockout match since 2001 but made light of such statistics as Josefine Öqvist swiftly consolidated their lead. Lotta Schelin rounded off the first-half scoring and inflicted the final wound on a bedraggled Iceland shortly after the break.
With a sell-out crowd in expectant mood, Sweden's most fervent prayer was for an early goal. Midfielder Hammarström duly obliged, sending a venomous left-footed drive from the edge of the area fizzing beyond the outstretched fingertips of Iceland keeper Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir. Pia Sundhage had pinpointed pace as a means to counteract Iceland's dogged rearguard: her charges responded in kind, dictating proceedings with metronomic consistency.
A goal of brilliance in creation and execution made Iceland's task mountainous. Schelin dissected the opposition defence with a visionary pass for Öqvist, who prodded the ball beyond Gunnarsdóttir for her second goal in as many games. The tide of pressure looked set to overwhelm Iceland as Schelin turned goalscorer five minutes later. Kosovare Asllani's effervescent running took her beyond full-back Fanndís Fridriksdóttir, before she swept a delicious centre towards the front post, where the Olympique Lyonnais player made Gunnarsdóttir's net billow.
It needed a moment of inspiration to lift Iceland spirits and Fridriksdóttir almost provided it, whipping deviously across goal without finding a recipient. It was Sweden who finished the half with a flourish, however, Schelin showing fleet of foot to beguile her marker before firing over.
Siggi Eyjolfsson's charges were undone for a fourth time 14 minutes into the second period. The intuitive combinations of Asllani and Schelin bore fruit once more, with the latter taking receipt of a beautifully weighted pass and poking in from close range to move two goals clear in the adidas Golden Boot race on five strikes.
That proved to be the irrepressible forward's final contribution as she left the pitch to a standing ovation, secure in the knowledge her team would compete in the Gothenburg semi-final on 24 July. Iceland, meanwhile, could take heart from becoming the first team from their nation to make it past the group stage of a final tournament at any level.
Player of the match: Kosovare Asllani (Sweden)
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