Sweden, USA advance to World Cup semi-finals

DRESDEN, Germany, July 10, 2011 (AFP) - Sweden and the United States booked the final two tickets to the Women's World Cup semi-finals on Sunday as the Brazil of FIFA's five-time World Player of the Year Marta were eliminated.

The United States needed a tense 5-3 penalty shootout to get past the South Americans in Dresden after the match ended 2-2 after extra-time, and will next meet France for a place in the final.

AFP - Brazil's goalkeeper Andreia fails to save a penalty kick from USA's midfielder Megan Rapinoe during the quarter-final match Brazil vs USA on July 10, 2011 in Dresden

Earlier Sweden, the only unbeaten team left in the tournament, outclassed Australia 3-1 in Augsburg and next play Japan, who eliminated two-time winners Germany on Saturday.

"Everyone is really sad which is normal after a defeat like that where you lose in the last minute," said Brazil coach Kleiton Lima.

"The girls threw everything into trying to win, we have tried to console them, but it will take time to get over this."

US coach Pia Sundhage added: "I come from Sweden, but this core American value of bringing the best out of one another is infectious. I'm very proud and happy to be coach of the USA."

US defender Alex Krieger hit the winning penalty after her goalkeeper Hope Solo had earlier saved from Brazil's Daiane to give her side the advantage in the shoot-out.

On the final whistle, American striker Abby Wambach had kept her side in the quarter-final with a dramatic header in the 122nd minute to level the scores after Brazil star Marta had scored in the 92nd minute.

The game went into extra-time with the scores 1-1 as an own-goal by defender Daiane after just two minutes was cancelled out by playmaker Marta's penalty on 68 minutes which she converted at the second attempt.

The US had been reduced to 10 players when defender Rachel Buehler was sent off just moments before.

"It's hard to have to go, but we're not sunk," said Marta. "I'm leaving with the satisfaction that we did everything we could, that we played our football and I believe that we were the better side. We leave the World Cup with our heads held high."

Teammate Rosana, who scored Brazil's opening goal of the tournament, added: "It's an inexplicable defeat. We don't understand it but that's football and we're in the quarter-finals so all our rivals are strong."

Sweden, who beat the United States 2-1 to finish top of Group C, dominated their clash against an inexperienced Australian side.

Therese Sjogran and Lisa Dahlkvist put the Swedes ahead within 16 minutes before Ellyse Perry marked her first World Cup match by getting one back five minutes before the break.

Lotta Schelin finished off the contest after 52 minutes after poor Australian defending allowed the Swedish striker to round goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri and coolly slot into the empty goal.

Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby said his side would need to improve against Japan, a team they have played twice but not beaten this year.

"We don't have very good memories of playing against them (Japan), but we hope to do better this time," he said.

"Overall I'm satisfied although I think we didn't play as good defence as in the other games.

"Maybe we were a bit tired since the game against the USA. Our attacking play was really good and there were some nice goals."

The Scandinavians also booked one of the two European qualifying spots for the 2012 Olympics along with France as England going through as hosts, but Germany miss out.

Olympic champions the United States have competed in every edition of the tournament since the inaugural edition in 1991. They also won in 1999 and are bidding to become the first country to win three titles.

Fifth-ranked Sweden finished third in 1991 when were finalists in 2003.

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