RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Sporting Alert – An own goal by Roxanne Barker setup a 1-0 win for Sweden over South Africa in the opening women’s soccer group match at Rio 2016 on Wednesday.
Barker, who was benched after the first game at the London 2012 Games after conceding four goals, looked shaky for most of the contest and one of her many mistakes cost her team.
Sweden, which ran away 4-1 winners when these two nations met in group play at the last Olympic Games, got off to a spirited start again, but the South African defence tightened up after an early blip.
Attacker Sofia Jakobsson nearly took advantage of some poor defending, but her powerful shot rattled off the crossbar in the 5th minute.
Barker rushed out to make an interception in her box, but she failed to get to the ball in time and it almost cost her team early, as Jakobsson’s shot off a loose ball in the area was stopped by the post.
After that effort, though, Sweden never got as close again for the rest of the first half, despite dominating the ball possession, as well as having more corners and shots at goal.
Coach Pia Sundhage side started the second half with a little more pep in its step, but still struggled to break down the South African defence, as the pre-game favourite failed to take advantage of its early set-pieces.
But just when we thought South Africa was going to hold out for a point, Sweden struck, and yes, the goal came off a set-piece.
Poor handling by a shaky-looking Barker allowed the ball to slip through her hands twice and her side paid for it, as she gifted Sweden an own goal.
Her attempt to gather a close cross inside the box slipped straight through Barker’s hands and in her effort to keep the ball out of the goal, she, unfortunately, helped it across the line.
Sweden defender Nilla Fischer got the final touch on the ball, but by then it had already gone over the line.
South Africa, which had only 37 percent of the ball in the first half, was not disciplined in the attack, after finishing the contest with 10 offsides calls against them.
Sweden is playing in the same group as host nation Brazil, with China being the fourth nation in the group.