In the opening match of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament Sweden defeated South Africa 1-0 in Group E play at the Olympic Stadium in Rio.
It was a hard-fought match by both sides. Despite the disparity in world ranking -- South Africa is ranked 52nd in the world while Sweden is ranked sixth -- South Africa made it difficult for the Swedes.
Sweden did start off strong in the first half highlighted by a shot off the crossbar in the fourth minute by forward Sofia Jakobsson.
Sweden continued to control play for the first 30 minutes, but were unable to convert any of their scoring chances.
In the 39th minute, South Africa was forced to make a substitution after forward Shiwe Nogwanya went down with an injury. She was replaced by 18-year-old Linda Motlhalo.
Sweden started the second half with a substitution of its own sending on Elin Rubensson for Lisa Dahlkvist.
South Africa began to find some footing in the game in the second half, gaining more possession and creating offense through the counter attack.
However, Sweden halted South Africa’s momentum in the 74th minute as defender Nilla Fischer scored off a mishandled cross by South African goalkeeper Roxanne Barker.
Following the goal, Sweden held onto its lead for the remainder of the match to earn three points and move to the top of Group E. South Africa remains at 0 points.
Next up for Sweden is a matchup against host country Brazil on Saturday at 9:00p.m. while South Africa takes on China on Saturday at 6:00p.m.