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Sweden downs France to finish third at WWC

Jul 16, 2011 - 9:15 PM Sinsheim, Germany (Sports Network) - Marie Hammarstrom picked a great time to score her first international goal.

Hammarstrom scored in the 82nd minute Saturday, and short-handed Sweden downed France, 2-1, in the third-place match at Rhein-Necker-Arena in the Women's World Cup.

Charlotta Schelin scored in the first half for Sweden, but Elodie Thomis tied the match after half and Josefine Oqvist was sent off minutes later to leave Sweden down a player for the final 22 minutes.

Hammarstrom, whose twin sister Kristin Hammarstrom is a goalkeeper for Sweden, delivered the game-winner with a spectacular shot from 17 yards that found the upper-left corner.

It was the 29-year-old's first goal for Sweden, which earned its second bronze medal in the World Cup. Sweden also finished third in 1991. It's best finish was second in 2003, when it lost in extra time to Germany.

"It was essential to win this match, because we'd played extremely well in our four previous matches before losing to an excellent Japanese side [in the semifinals]," Sweden coach Thomas Dennerby said.

"That was a setback, but our reaction [Saturday] was top class; we showed what we were truly capable of."

Schelin opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark when she ran onto a long pass it from center back Sara Larsson in the 29th, then flicked the ball with the outside of her right foot past France goalie Berangere Sapowicz.

Sapowicz turned her ankle when she charged out to try to cut down the angle on the goal, and had to be replaced by Celine Deville.

Sweden failed to test Deville, and France came within inches of tying the game before halftime when Elise Bussaglia hit the right post in the 36th.

France did find the net after half, as Gaetane Thiney passed to an open Thomis on the left. Thomis settled and drove a shot from 19 yards to the near post in the 56th minute.

Sweden's Josefine Oqvist broke into the area against Deville in the 64th, but her chip shot bounced off the right post. France countered and Thomis forced a save from Hedvig Lindahl less than a minute later as both teams attacked.

Oqvist was then sent off in the 68th after kicking out in retaliation against France's Sonia Bompastor, who avoided a card on the play despite instigating.

Despite being down to 10 players, Sweden escaped with the win and third-place medal when Hammarstrom settled a poorly-cleared corner kick and drove the ball into the top-left corner from 17 yards.

Sweden finished the World Cup with five wins, including a 2-1 victory over the United States in group play. France finished with three losses but the fourth- place finish is its highest-ever in World Cup play.

"It's been a fantastic adventure," France manager Bruno Bini said.