SOCCER

Sweden Tops England 2-1 with VAR Disallowing a Key Goal

The Swedish Women’s team take a third-place finish in the 2019 Women’s World Cup amid VAR controversy.

The Women’s World Cup third-place game in Nice had a game-time temperature in the mid-80’s, but other forces turned up the heat. While the Swedish Women’s team nabbed the win, many are saying that VAR (video assistant referee) played a part in the victory.

The Swedes took an early 2-0 lead over England’s Lionesses at the 22-minute mark. The goals from Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson mark the earliest the Lionesses have allowed two goals in the tourney. The Swedish women fast start, and England’s lackluster play could have led to a first-half blow-out if not for some key misses.

At the 31-minute mark the Lionesses’ Fran Kerby boots in a goal to put England within one goal of the Swedes. At the 34-minute mark, England’s Ellen White works some magic chesting a pass from Beth Mead to apparently even the score. The well-executed goal was disallowed after VAR declared White used her arm to handle the ball.

It is an understatement to say that White and her team felt ripped-off by the overturned score. VAR is new to Women’s World Cup action this year, after debuting in the Men’s World Cup in Russia, 2018. While there seemed to be no purposeful contact on the part of Ellen White, VAR’s decision stood, and the officiating crew nodded in approval.

To their credit, the Lionesses stepped up their play in the second half of the game. However, some missed shots and a determined Swedish team held England scoreless in the second half.

Sweden went on to win the match 2-1 in regular time. The team was jubilant as they celebrated their third-place finish.

In a post-game interview, England’s head coach Phil Neville appeared to choke on some sour-grapes as he referred to the third-place match as a “nonsense game,” adding that he and his team came to win the World Cup stating,” we wanted gold, not bronze.” That seems a bit childish coming from a head coach on the world stage. Cheer up coach, the Swede’s are happy to take those dreadful bronze medals off of your hands.

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