Linda Sembrant's last-ditch winner sent Sweden into a semi-final against England following a dominant performance against a brave Belgium side.
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Linda Sembrant's late strike broke a dogged defensive display by Belgium in the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 quarter-final in Wigan & Leigh, with goalkeeper Nicky Evrard in inspired form for the Red Flames.
6' Angeldal strike saved by Evrard
14' Belgium No1 stops Ilestedt header
31' Vanhaevermaet drags effort wide
34' Blackstenius prods straight at keeper
47' Red Flames goalie holds Rolfö volley
62' Dipping Angeldal shot flies over bar
73' Blackstenius' header palmed away
82' Dhont blasts into side netting
90+2' Sembrant pounces from close range
Match in brief: Sweden leave it late
Belgium, in their first-ever quarter-final at a major tournament, were under pressure from the start and had goalkeeper Nicky Evrard to thank as early as the sixth minute. The 27-year-old read the flight of Filippa Angeldal's swerving strike from 20 metres out superbly, pushing it out for a corner.
Soon after, Evrard was pressed into action again, pulling off a smart reaction stop to deny Amanda Ilestedt's powerful header. Angeldal, Sweden's two-goal hero against Portugal on Matchday 3, was in the thick of the attacking action as the Blågult peppered the Belgium goal in the first half.
Ives Serneels' side rarely got out of defensive duties in the first half, but Justine Vanhaevermaet was able to fire in a crisp strike that skidded narrowly wide soon after the half-hour mark. As half-time approached, Stina Blackstenius was the latest to be denied by the Red Flames keeper. The Arsenal forward tried to turn a corner in from close range, but Evrard was able to produce a fine double save.
The second half continued in much the same vein, with Fridolina Rolfö's instinctive volley the latest to be gathered up by Evrard. Sweden were unable to keep up the attacking pressure, with Angeldal resorting to a dipping effort from distance shortly after the hour mark that dropped narrowly over the bar.
Evrard was congratulated by her team-mates once again with just under 20 minutes left, when she palmed Blackstenius's header away from danger at point-blank range. Belgium made an attacking change midway through the second half, bringing on Elena Dhont, and the substitution almost paid dividends with a counterattack in the 82nd minute, but the replacement blasted into the side netting.
Time looked to be running out for Sweden to avoid an additional 30 minutes, but the set piece specialists eventually broke down the Belgium back line. A deep corner from the left posed problems, with Nathalie Björn denied by Evrard before Sembrant was perfectly positioned to scoop the rebound into the roof of the net.
Player of the Match: Nicky Evrard (Belgium)
"She made some important saves and gave her side a lot of confidence playing out from the back thanks to her excellent distribution."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Alexandra Jonson, Sweden reporter
A huge sigh of relief at the end as Sweden finally got their winner. It was starting to look as though it wasn't to be as they couldn't find a way through despite dominating the game and having so many set pieces. They got a lot of things right, but they will have to more clinical against England in Tuesday's semi-final.
Alyssa Saliou, Belgium reporter
Belgium can leave the tournament with their heads held high after this performance. They defended so well, only to be beaten right at the end by a goal from a set piece. They kept up with Sweden throughout and Evrard made some stunning saves to keep it level, but even she couldn't stop that last-gasp effort.
Peter Gerhardsson, Sweden coach: "We had chances in both halves. It took a long time [for the goal to come] but I think we worked very well and we were always a threat in every minute."
Linda Sembrant, Sweden defender: "We pushed really hard and in the second half we really went for goal. It's hard to describe my feelings when I saw the ball go in. It's amazing, incredible and I just wanted to celebrate with the whole team so I ran towards the stand."
Tine De Caigny, Belgium forward: "It's not easy to go out like this. I want to be positive but you still have the emotions of the game, but I am sure tomorrow we will all just be very proud of ourselves and the group."
Tessa Wullaert, Belgium forward: "We showed them who we are. It took them until added time to score. That says a lot. We were the underdogs from the beginning but we did really well as a team. That's what I want to remember from this tournament."
- Sweden have failed to score in just one of their last 35 internationals.
- Sweden's Kosovare Asllani is the only player to feature in all four quarter-finals since the stage was introduced in 2009.
- The Blågult are through to their ninth Women's EURO semi-final; only Germany (ten) have reached more.
- Sembrant became Sweden's oldest Women's EURO scorer, aged 35 years and 68 days.
- Sweden have won their third successive Women's EURO match, equalling their best run at the tournament.
- Belgium were playing in their first Women's EURO knockout game.
- Belgium's Ives Serneels took charge of his 33rd UEFA Women's EURO game (including qualifying) – taking him outright sixth in the all-time rankings.
Sweden: Lindahl; Ilestedt, Sembrant, Eriksson, Nildén; Angeldal (Bennison 84), Asllani, Björn; Rytting Kaneryd, Blackstenius, Rolfö
Belgium: Evrard; Deloose (Dhont 67), Kees, De Neve, Philtjens; Biesmans (Missipo 88), Vanhaevermaet, Minnaert; Cayman, De Caigny, Wullaert
What comes next?
Sweden play England in the first semi-final in Sheffield at 21:00 CET on Tuesday 26 July. The winners of that tie will be the nominal home side in the Sunday 31 July final at Wembley.