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Sweden edges Colombia in Group C opener

Jun 28, 2011 - 6:17 PM Leverkusen, Germany (Sports Network) - Sweden won its opening match of a World Cup for the first time in six attempts Tuesday, as Jessica Landstrom scored in the 57th minute of a 1-0 win over Colombia in Group C play at BayArena.

Sweden had four defeats and a draw in its previous five opening matches at the women's event, and missed numerous opportunities against first-time qualifier Colombia before finally scoring the lone goal.

The Swedes failed to advance past group play for the first time four years ago in China but are now in position for a return trip to the quarterfinals - even though a more decisive result was expected against Colombia.

"Yes, we could have won by a goal or two more, but I shouldn't be too fussy - the important thing is that we secured three points," said Sweden coach Thomas Dennerby.

Colombia had the first chance on goal inside three minutes, but Daniela Monoya failed to test Sweden goalie Hedvig Lindahl with the long-range shot. For the remainder of the half, Sweden dominated - but failed to score.

Swedish striker Lotta Schelin responded with a chance in the third minute, but although she slipped a shot past Colombia goalie Sandra Sepulveda, captain and defender Natalia Gaitan slid in to clear the ball off the line.

Schelin forced a save from Sepulveda in the 10th, and Colombia's defense still had to clear the deflection out of the six-yard box.

The Swedes best chance came in the 13th when Schelin drove into the left side of the box and dropped a pass into the middle to Landstrom, who lifted an open seven-yard shot over the crossbar.

Sweden's chances were limited over the remainder of the half, but Sepulveda was forced to charge off her line and clear a ball just outside the area to prevent a one-on-one against Schelin in the latter stages.

Schelin continued to lead Sweden's offense after halftime, and she came within inches of scoring in the 47th. Schelin beat Sepulveda to the ball outside the area this time, but flicked a shot from the edge of the box wide right.

Landstrom then wasted another good chance in the 56th when she fired wide with just Sepulveda to beat, but Landstrom and Schelin combined in the 57th to open the scoring.

Schelin won the ball from Colombia on the right wing, then drove into the area on the right side and slipped a pass across the top of the six-yard area to an open Landstrom, who slotted into an open net for her 17th international goal.

"I never had any doubts that I would score sooner or later in the game," said Landstrom. "Unfortunately, I missed a few clear chances, but you have to put that out of your mind and focus on the next one that one comes along."

Sweden settled in with the one-goal lead, and Therese Sjogran, Sofia Jakobsson and Schelin all had decent looks on goal over the final 30 minutes, while the Colombians failed to threaten.

Colombia, playing in its first World Cup, will try to earn its first result on Saturday against the United States. Sweden plays North Korea on Saturday, when it could seal a berth in the knockout stage with a win.

"Sweden came at us right from the start, and their physical approach enabled them to get the better of us," said Colombia coach Ricardo Rozo. "But we are still convinced that anything is possible in this group."