USWNT hammered by Sweden in Olympics opener

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Sweden hammered the USWNT 3-0 in their Tokyo 2020 Olympics opener, as Team USA saw their 44-game unbeaten run ended in dramatic fashion.

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Stina Blackstenius scored in each half and Linda Hurtig added another as the USWNT hit the woodwork twice but were second-best throughout as Sweden deservedly won the Group G opener.

This defeat is also the first time since 2008 that the USWNT have lost a game in a major tournament by multiple goals.

The USWNT now face New Zealand on Saturday and then Australia in their final two group games, as Vlatko Andonovski’s side have to improve drastically.

This result is a big wake-up call for the reigning World Cup champions who many had as the red-hot favorites to win OIympic Gold this summer.

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3 things we learned

1. USWNT center backs exposed: Becky Sauerbraunn and Abby Dahlkemper were ruthlessly exposed, especially in the first half, as the U.S. midfield was nowhere to be seen. The experienced duo were given the runaround by Blackstenius and Co. and had no answer. In truth, this defeat could have been a lot heavier if it wasn’t for Crystal Dunn’s last-ditch tackles.

2. Ertz, Rapinoe, Lloyd must start: Ertz in particular made a big difference after coming on at half time and Andonovski clearly made an error in his lineup. He brought on Ertz and Lloyd at half time and Rapinoe soon after but by then the damage was done. The USWNT never had control of this game and they looked sluggish throughout, with misplaced passes galore. Starting their experienced stars will now be key.

3. Sweden are now the Gold medal favorites: This was an incredible display from Sweden, who are a very good team, but nobody expected them to win 3-0. They are now the clear favorites to win the Gold medal. Sweden stood tall, dominated from start to finish and if they can limit giving chances away then they will go far in Tokyo.

Star of the Match: Stina Blackstenius – Took her two goals extremely well and caused so many problems with her movement centrally.

Sweden started superbly and pinned the USWNT back in their penalty box with plenty of corners and set piece situations causing problems.

At the other end Tobin Heath smashed a shot on goal which was saved, while Alyssa Naeher made a fine low stop.

Sweden then had a glorious chance as Crystal Dunn played a cross-field pass straight to Sweden but their finish was poor and let the USWNT off the hook.

After numerous chances and Naeher standing on her head, as a cross from Jakobsson was headed home by Blackstenius to give Sweden a deserved lead.

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Tobin Heath caused chaos at the other end as the USWNT tried to push to be level, Crystal Dunn then denied Jakobson, who was clean through on goal, as Team USA couldn’t stop the Swedish attacks centrally.

Jonna Andersson’s shot from distance was a tough one for Naeher to save, but she stopped it, and Blackstenius almost got in again.

Rose Lavelle did hit the post just before half time, but overall the USWNT were thankful for the half time whistle.

Carli Lloyd came on for Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz for Sam Mewis at half time, as the USWNT improved in the second half.

At the start of the second half Sweden doubled their lead as a corner kick was flicked on, hit the post and Blackstenius was on hand to lift the ball into the top of the net.

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Carli Lloyd had a shot deflected wide and Megan Rapinoe come on for Tobin Heath for the final 25 minutes to try and get the USWNT back in it.

Rapinoe then got in over the top and crossed the ball for Press, as the ball hit her, hit the post and bounced clear as the USWNT came so close to grabbing a goal back.

Moments later Sweden added to their lead as Hurtig headed home a fine cross to put a bow on a magnificent display by the Swedes.

Press was denied late on as her header was pushed away, but the USWNT look stunned by being 3-0 down.

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USWNT hammered by Sweden in Olympics opener originally appeared on NBCSports.com