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It has been left all to play for in Group A going into the final round of group games as the USA and Sweden played out the best game of the tournament so far, sharing six goals between them in a 3-3 draw.
Both teams sat top of Group A at the beginning of the encounter between Sweden and the USA, the final match on day 2 of the IFA Women’s Futsal World Cup. Sweden were marginally in front on goal difference, and whoever prevailed victorious would certainly have the edge to qualify for the semi-final.
The USA took the lead late in what was a tremendous first half of Futsal through Jessica Cowart's excellent individual goal.
The tempo was extremely high from the off with both sets of players realising the importance of this match. Sweden’s Susan Kiryo stung the pals of USA shot stopper Gabriella Batmani.
Moments later at the other end, Veronica Cashman forced Isabella Gustavsson into a fine save, pushing the ball away from goal after a stinging drive.
Batmani was in fine form in goal for the USA, Sibel Izguden was next to work the keeper, but Batmani threw herself in front of the powerful strike and got a strong arm in the way and gathered the loose ball before any Sweden players could follow in. Great save!
Sweden were the side with more clear cut chances, and came close again to open the scoring at the midway point in the first half. Ida Hedstad struck a venomous shot that looked destined for the top corner, but Batmani again denied her, tipping the ball over the bar and out for a corner.
With less than three minutes of the first half remaining the deadlock was broken by the USA, thanks to a piece of individual brilliance. Jessica Cowart picked the ball up in her own half, weaved her way down the left, popped the ball through the legs of the Swedish defender and finished across Gustavsson and into the back of the net.
Half Time: Sweden 0-1 USA
The second half was less than two minutes old when Sweden got themselves back on level terms. Pernilla Jansson drove down the right hand side, fired the ball low into the box and the ball hit unfortunate USA defender Katelyn Nebesnick and rolled agnoisingly over the line and into the back of the net.
Sweden had not even finished celebrating when they scored again to turn the game around. Jansson powered her way down the right side, cut the ball back for Elin Skold, and she put full force behind the shot and it flew past Batmani and into the top corner to make it 2-1 to the Swedes.
Minutes later the scores were level once again. Raylene Larot found herself in space, cut the ball back to the unmarked Cashman on the edge of the box and curled the boy sweetly into the bottom corner.
Only four minutes into the second half and it was raining goals! Sweden took the lead when Daniella Chamoun picked out her unmarked captain Nazanin Vaseghpanah 5 yards out to chip the ball delightfully over Batmani into the goal. Wow, what a game!
The goals dried up throughout the second half, but the action didn’t. Sweden goalkeeper Gustavsson took too long on the ball and the referee awarded a free kick. Larot hit the free kick for the USA but Gustavsson made up for her error by blocking the shot and preventing a USA equaliser.
After plugging away and firing everything they had at Sweden, the USA equalised. A long throw from keeper Batmani towards Jessica Sanchez was inch perfect, and Sanchez flicked the ball into the unmarked Raleigh Loughman who volleyed the ball first time past Gustavsson into the roof of the net, sparking jubilant USA celebrations.
That was that, what a game, and it’s all to play for going into the final round of games in Group A games. USA meet basement team Spain and France play Sweden in what is sure to be another cracking game, with the Swedes needing a point to guarantee qualification for the semi finals.
Full Time: Sweden 3-3 USA
Sweden: 1- Isabella Gustavsson, 5- Elin Skold, 6- Sandra De Brun Kenk, 7- Pernilla Jansson, 8- Sibel Izguden, 9- Ida Hedstad, 10- Nazanin Vaseghpanah, 11- Susan Kiryo, 12- Daniella Chamoun, 13- Diala Elia, 18- Jama Jammeh
MVP: Isabella Gustavsson - She kept her team in the game with some tremendous saves throughout the match.
USA: 1- Raylene Larot, 2- Veronica Cashman, 3- Gabriella Batmani, 5- Julie Meurer, 6- Emily Kuo, 7- Katelyn Nebesnick, 8- Maricela Padilla, 9- Erika Lum, 10- Jessica Cowart, 11- Alejandra Palominos Maldonado, 12- Raleigh Loughman, 13- Ellie Pope, 14- Jillian Jordan, 17- Jessica Sanchez
MVP: Raleigh Loughman - With the ball at her feet she was a delight to watch and she scored the all important equaliser with a terrific volley.