FIFA Women's World Cup
Sweden again claims third place at World Cup, thwarting hopes of host Australia
FIFA Women's World Cup

Sweden again claims third place at World Cup, thwarting hopes of host Australia

Updated Aug. 19, 2023 8:10 p.m. ET

Sweden spoiled Australia's party in the third-place match of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, beating the host Matildas 2-0 Saturday in front of 50,000 fans at a sold-out Brisbane Stadium.

Fridolina Rolfo scored the only goal the Swedes would need from the penalty spot in the first half, and Kosovare Asllani added the second goal on a spectacular shot in the second.

The win gives Sweden — the most successful women's team never to win a World Cup or Olympic gold medal — its fourth top-three finish in tournament history and second in a row. Australia ends up in fourth place, same as their finish at the Tokyo Olympics two summers ago.

Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday's match.


Sweden vs. Australia Highlights | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup | Third Place Match

Play of the game

Asllani's strike was a thing of beauty. 

With half an hour to go and Australia pressing for the equalizer, the Swedes sprung a lightning-quick counterattack that was thwarted initially. But Stina Blackstenius showed enough composure to pick out a wide-open Asllani at the top of the box, and the captain did the rest:

Sweden's Kosovare Asllani scores goal vs. Australia in 62' | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Turning point

The match changed when Matildas defender Clare Hunt tripped Blackstenius in the box, giving Sweden a chance to go a goal up. Rolfo made no mistake with her spot kick, easily beating Aussie backstop Mackenzie Arnold:

Sweden's Fridolina Rolfo scores goal vs. Australia in 30' | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Key stat

If there were any doubts beforehand about how badly Australia coach Tony Gustavsson and Sweden boss ‎Peter Gerhardsson wanted to win this game, consider this: Both managers fielded the exact same starting lineups as in their respective semifinal matches versus England and Spain.

It's the first time since 1999 that the teams contesting the third-place game went with unchanged 11s from the semis.

What's next for Australia?

The Matildas did their nation proud at the first World Cup staged Down Under. The result of Saturday's third place game — which was attended by Aussie prime minister Anthony Albanese — doesn't change that one bit.

The hope all along for both co-hosts was that this event would have an impact long after the conclusion of the month-long competition. Quite clearly, a new generation of players has been inspired by the Matildas' stirring run to the final four. In the long term, that should translate into a squad — currently ranked 10th in the world by FIFA — that can compete for titles with the best European teams plus the likes of Brazil, Canada and of course the U.S.

Short team, this summer's success has tangible benefits. Off the field, Australia's federation will be able to leverage the Matildas' vastly increased marketability and create additional revenue streams, money which can then be reinvested into the team. On it, a spot on the podium at next summer's Olympics in Paris has to be seen as a wholly realistic next goal.

Sweden vs. Australia postgame thoughts | World Cup NOW

What's next for Sweden?

The Swedes deserve a ton of credit for their approach to this game. For a team that's always been the bridesmaid but never the bride, winning the bronze for the fourth time and third in the last four World Cups speaks volumes about the immense professionalism and pride — and talent — that exists within their program.

The Blue and Yellow will get their title eventually, maybe as soon as next summer in France in what could be the last go-round for Asllani and several other decorated veterans. But this World Cup has been yet another reminder that Sweden remains one of the best and most consistent national teams in the women's game.

The 'World Cup Tonight' crew reacts to Sweden defeating Australia in the World Cup Third Place Match

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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