Sweden Women vs Belgium Women. Women's European Championship Quarter-Final.
Leigh Sports VillageAttendance7,517.
Report as Linda Sembrant fires home in the second minute of injury time to secure Sweden's spot in the semi-finals; Sweden had 33 shots but struggled to break down Belgium's well-drilled defence; Sweden will face England in the semi-final at Bramall Lane on Tuesday
Saturday 23 July 2022 12:43, UK
Sweden set up a Euro 2022 semi-final showdown with England after Linda Sembrant's last-gasp goal saw them edge Belgium 1-0 in a tight quarter-final clash.
Although Sweden headed into the game as heavy favourites, it turned out to be a far closer game than many could have predicted, turning into a battle of wills as it wore on.
Sweden thought they had taken the lead in the first half as Stina Blackstenius fired past goalkeeper Nicky Evrard. She collected a lovely forward pass from Kosovare Asllani before keeping her cool to beat the Belgium stopper, but after a VAR check, she was deemed to be offside.
The Swedes registered 33 shots at Leigh Sports Village, although most of these came from range as they struggled to break down a well-drilled Belgium. However, it was a dramatic finish as Sembrant turned home with extra time looming.
Evrard had made some superb saves throughout and almost denied Sweden again, punching away Asllani's corner delivery and blocking Natalie Bjorn's follow-up. But she could do nothing about Sembrant turning home from close range with the rebound as Belgium were beaten in their first ever knockout game at a major international tournament.
Sweden now set up an almighty semi-final meeting with tournament hosts England on Tuesday evening for a place in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley on July 31.
Sweden had the better of the opening chances. Filippa Angeldahl forced a superb save from Evrard inside six minutes, before also firing wide from the resulting corner. Evrard was again in great form soon after, stopping Amanda Ilestedt's flicked corner at the near post before keeping Blackstenius from netting the rebound.
After the Arsenal midfielder's disallowed goal, Belgium saw their best chances of the half. Tessa Wullaert's lay-off to Julie Biesmans saw the latter skim an effort past the post. The Belgium captain was provider again not long after, but her cross was punched away well by Hedvig Lindahl.
The second half could by no means be considered a classic, although it was an exciting start as Illestedt sent a cross onto the corner of the post, but the offside flag was up.
Belgium continued to marshal their opponents well, but needed another world-class save from Evrard to keep them in the game in the 73rd minute. Asllani's free-kick was nodded back across by Linda Sembrant. It landed for Blackstenius, but her poke from inside the six-yard box was stopped by Evrard.
The Red Flames introduced Elena Dhont in the second half and she proved to be a lively attacking outlet as Belgium looked to nick a shock victory. In the final 10 minutes, Dhont was set away down the right and tried to catch Lindahl off her line, but her shot hammered into the side netting.
Minutes later, she played the ball to Wullaert down the right before racing into the area, but Amanda Nilden was there to nick the ball away ahead of Dhont.
But for all of their good work, Belgium's defences were finally breached with mere seconds to go until 30 extra minutes, sending Sweden into the final four.
Sky Sports' Charlotte Marsh:
"Any England fan watching Sweden's quarter-final would be forgiven for thinking Tuesday's semi-final will be an easy ride. Sweden looked ponderous, struggled to break down Belgium's defence and were not at all near their best.
"But it has not been the easiest preparation. They have been hit by a wave of Covid absentees, including key players like Hannah Glas and Jonna Andersson, who will surely start on Tuesday if they're fit enough.
"There was no overlap from the full-backs against Belgium, which stifled Sweden's creativity. Glas and Andersson, who play more as wing-backs, provide this outlet and will provide England's own full-backs with a tough test.
"But Sweden must be quicker in their play. England are packed with pace in the transition, getting the ball out to their wingers in lightning-quick time. They will punish the Swedes time and again if they are given this opportunity.
"They will likely let England have the better of the possession and chances, especially if they do not have their key players to full fitness. Despite having over 30 chances on Friday, Sweden's efforts were largely restricted to long range.
"But one area Sweden looked incredibly strong in against Belgium is set-pieces. They scored their goal from a corner and they were the times when the Red Flames looked the most vulnerable.
"Sweden are a big side in terms of height and England can match this, but they must keep their concentration. On the other side, the Lionesses are also dangerous in their set-pieces.
"Sarina Wiegman's side must also make the most of their two extra days and additional players - at the moment - in training. While Sweden avoided an energy-sapping extra 30 minutes, the extra rest could prove vital.
"But England were also not at their best against Spain and both teams must improve ahead of the semi-final. All eyes will be on Bramall Lane and the occasion deserves an entertaining spectacle."
Sweden defender Magdalena Eriksson told BBC Sport:
"It feels unbelievable. That was our goal for the day. It wasn't easy and Belgium made it really difficult. I'm so happy we got the win. I'm so happy for Linda and that we finally got the goal.
"It was really tough. We had to stay mentally really strong. We had to stay positive. We did that. We were going to go until the 94th minute and keep pushing.
"There are so many emotions. I felt the tears coming because I was so happy. It was a frustrating evening, but to finally get that relief, I'm so proud of all the girls for how hard we fought."
On the semi-final with England: "It's going to be an extremely tough game. England have been amazing in the tournament so far. I know all the players - extremely talented players. We have to be really on it. It's about recovering and getting fresh again."
On whether two days' less prep gives England the edge: "No. We're in the flow of playing games. It's about what we make of it. I'm sure we'll be 100 per cent fresh on Tuesday."
Sweden will now face England in the semi-finals on Tuesday at Bramall Lane with kick-off at 8pm. The Euro 2022 final will take place at Wembley on July 31; kick-off 5pm.
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: England 2-1 Spain (AET)
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Germany 2-0 Austria
Friday July 22
Quarter-final 3: Sweden 1-0 Belgium
Saturday July 23
Quarter-final 4: France vs Netherlands - kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Tuesday July 26
Semi-final 1: England vs Sweden - kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Germany vs France or Netherlands - kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 - kick-off 5pm, Wembley
Sky Sports News and Sky Sports' digital platforms will be following every step of England's Euro 2022 journey ahead of Tuesday's semi-final.
On the road, the Sky Sports News Mobile Presentation bus will continue to bring you all the best guests and analysis from the likes of Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett offering their expert insight. The bus will be based in the heart of Sheffield ahead of England's last four fixture, before heading to Wembley for the final.
Across SkySports.com, the Sky Sports App and on social media, we'll have all the big moments covered with our previews, features, reports, analysis, plus the the Sky Sports Women's Euros podcast with Sky Sports' senior football journalist Charlotte Marsh and Sky Sports News reporter Anton Toloui.
And if you're new to the England squad, don't worry - here's our guide to meeting the Lionesses.
As well as England, Sky Sports News and Sky Sports digital will also be covering all the knockout games as we head towards the showpiece final on July 31.