Sweden beats France for third place
SINSHEIM, Germany -- A resilient Sweden topped France 2-1 to win Saturday's third-place match in the Women's World Cup. Reduced to 10 players after a red card was issued to Josefine Oqvist in the 68th minute, Sweden never looked like a team playing at a disadvantage. Second-half substitute Marie Hammarstrom broke a 1-1 deadlock for the game-winner in the 82nd minute to give Sweden the bronze medal.
"We're solid. We worked together. We tried to focus on that," Swedish forward Lotta Schelin said after the team had finished celebrating on the field.
Schelin scored the game's first goal to put Sweden in the lead in the 29th minute. French forward Elodie Thomis tied the game in the 56th minute, but the turning point was the red card in the 68th.
After a tough challenge between Oqvist and French defender Sonia Bompastor near the endline in Sweden's offensive side of the field, the two players fell on top of each other near the endline. While play continued in the penalty box, Bompastor kicked at Oqvist, who then retaliated with a stronger kick to Bompastor's stomach. U.S. referee Kari Seitz issued a straight red card to Oqvist for the retaliation, but Bompastor did not receive any penalty.
"I'm sorry for her because I didn't want to get her a red card. It's not good. I think the referee only saw the end of the action," Bompastor told reporters after the match.
Loud boos and whistles rained down on Bompastor every time she touched the ball after that, as many fans had seen that she initiated the contact with Oqvist and also might have thought she had oversold how hurt she was by the kick.
After the match, French coach Bruno Bini was upset with the fans' reaction.
"At one point, the spectators starting behaving as if this were a men's match,'' Bini said through a translator. "We had boos and whistles for Sonia. It's unbelievable. She really didn't deserve that. The spectators behaved like this was a men's game, and I don't like this type of football. This destabilized the whole team."
Bompastor, however, said she wasn't concerned with it.
"I'm just disappointed about the loss. I don't care about the fans whistling," she said.
Sweden got the winner off a corner kick. Though replays showed France should have had a goal kick after Schelin dribbled the ball out of bounds, Terese Sjogran took the corner kick for Sweden, which then fell to Hammarstrom near the top of the box. She unleashed a rocket left-footed shot that beat French goalkeeper Celine DeVille for the game's final score. It was the first international goal for the 29-year-old Hammarstrom.
France didn't show the type of offensive performance that had been seen through its first five games. It also was forced to make two early substitutions, both in just the 32nd minute. Star midfielder Louisa Necib left with a knee injury and goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz injured her right leg trying to stop Schelin's goal and had to be replaced.
After the match, it was nothing but joy for Sweden. The players received their medals and did their now famous, though a bit goofy, "Logobitombo" dance one final time on the field. Swedish captain Caroline Seger, who missed the match as well as the semifinal loss to Japan with a calf injury, said she was proud of her teammates.
"We're going to fight to the bitter end as a team," she said. "We proved it today even more being just 10 on the field. This is a team effort. We're so happy that we made it this far."