Swedish soccer star Lina Hurtig says that rewatching her winning penalty against the United States, which crossed the goal line by the narrowest of margins, makes her “sick to my stomach.”
Sweden was on the brink of losing Sunday’s shootout at the Women’s World Cup, only for Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith to both miss for the US and Hanna Bennison to score, sending the match to sudden death penalties.
After Kelley O’Hara had hit the post, Hurtig stepped up and saw her effort clawed out of the goal by Alyssa Naeher. But following a tense 30-second review, it was ruled that the ball had crossed the line by a matter of millimeters, sparking wild celebrations from Hurtig and her teammates.
“I don’t want to watch it again, it makes me sick to my stomach,” the 27-year-old forward told Radiosporten. “There are so many emotions, it’s so close, so I get a little sick to my stomach when I look at it.”
Hurtig’s penalty condemned the US to its earliest ever exit from a Women’s World Cup, while Sweden now faces a quarterfinal against Japan on Friday.
“Obviously, it was crazy,” Hurtig said, speaking to reporters on Wednesday. “It was such a relief when I saw the ref pointing and then I went crazy. Just running and screaming … That night, I couldn’t sleep very well. It was a lot of emotions there.”
For the US, it was perhaps the cruelest possible way to be knocked out of a tournament, particularly after holding an early advantage in the shootout.
In what is often seen as a psychological – as well as technical – battle, both teams had their goalkeepers pass the ball over to the next penalty taker during the shootout, a tactic intended to make players more relaxed ahead of their spot kicks.
Sweden had also worked with a psychologist to help handle the pressure of a shootout, which assistant coach Magnus Wikman says was a crucial part of the team’s preparation.
“Some of the players maybe shoot in their clubs, so they are used to that,” Wikman told reporters on Wednesday.
“But in our team – yes, we practice technically, and that’s good – but his [the psychologist’s] job I think is more important to practice feeling the right mood, what will you do with the ball when you go to the penalty [spot] and people are screaming, what shall you concentrate and focus on. In that way, it’s the most important.”
Sweden’s next opponent, Japan, has arguably been the most impressive team at the tournament so far having defeated fellow quarterfinalist Spain 4-0 in the group stages and Norway 3-1 in the round of 16.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Hurtig told reporters. “It’s going to be a lot of work. But I think we played against them two years ago. We struggled a bit then also, but we managed to win the game, so I think we feel confident.”
The two teams will meet at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday in a bid to reach the final four.