Sweden’s celebration was a bit more subdued than one might expect after a Round of 16 upset like the one it pulled against Canada on Monday. A defensive struggle ended in a 1-0 win for Sweden in Paris after Canada’s final shot attempt crashed into a wall of Sweden defenders in the ninth and final minute of stoppage time.
Sweden started to look ahead to the quarterfinals. Canada looked to the referees for a desperation decision to use video assistant referee (VAR) in the last minute.
VAR has been perhaps the defining storyline of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. Even when it hasn’t been granting penalty kicks off soft fouls or taking away goals because of borderline offsides calls, the newly implemented replay system has given nearly every goal celebration a moment of pause as players wonder whether a look at the replay could wipe it off the board. In the waning seconds of Sweden’s win at Parc des Princes, it left both teams wondering whether the game was actually over.
In the 99th minute, Sophie Schmidt tried one final shot for Canada from the edge of the box. The midfielder launched her attempt into a crowd of Sweden defenders and a group of Canada attackers immediately lifted their arms in the air, appealing for officials to take a look at the replay. Schmidt’s shot had hit a Sweden defender in the arm.
She had her arm close enough to her side for it to be ruled incidental and no penalty to be called, but in the age of VAR, players had no choice but to wonder what might be called, even after the final whistle blew in France.
A few minutes after time elapsed, it was clear there would be no look at replay. Sweden advanced to the quarterfinals and Canada headed home. Referees got the call right by avoiding VAR, but it couldn’t stop the replay system from putting a cloud over another match at the Women’s World Cup.