How Sweden’s ‘greatest keeper performance in World Cup history’ eliminated USWNT (1:19)

Joey Lynch reacts to the USWNT’s elimination from the 2023 World Cup after an inspirational performance from Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic. (1:19)

  • Joey Lynch, Australia Correspondent


Joey Lynch is a Melbourne-based sports journalist, AYA Cancer advocate, cynical centre-half and Zack Ryder mark. Primarily working on football, he has covered the Socceroos, Matildas, A-League, W-League, Y-League, the Australian grassroots and beyond.

Aug 6, 2023, 11:11 AM ET

MELBOURNE, Australia – Sweden women’s national team coach Peter Gerhardsson said goalkeeper Zećira Mušović’s performance was so impressive that it could have psyched out the United States’ stars in the penalty shootout of Sunday’s Women’s World Cup round-of-16 match.

Mušović was crucial in her side’s victory at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, pulling off a series of stunning saves to deny the USWNT, which dominated much of the game but couldn’t score in regulation or extra time as it finished 0-0.

In the penalty shootout, which Sweden won 5-4, Mušović didn’t need to make a single save. Megan Rapinoe and Sophia Smith both saw their attempts sail over the bar – the latter of which would have won the game for the U.S. had it found the net. When Kelley O’Hara’s penalty hit the post, it allowed Sweden’s Lina Hurtig to kick her side into the quarterfinals, with the ball crossing the line by a razor-thin margin.

“When you come to a penalty shootout, it’s the goalkeeper’s game,” Gerhardsson said. “[Mušović] likes when it comes to penalties, she knows it’s her game. I don’t know what she did, what mental thing that she did to make them put them over the bar and things like that. But I think goalkeepers like these kinds of penalties, they’re mentally prepared, that’s their game.

“She was good in the game. Even if she didn’t save any penalties, I think for the other team, maybe they put it outside because they know that if it’s not a good penalty, maybe she takes it.”

Mušović, who plays for WSL giants Chelsea, made a total of 11 saves across the evening, a single-game World Cup record for a goalkeeper who kept a clean sheet.

**- Women’s World Cup:Home Squads Fixtures Podcast**

In doing so, Musovic ensured the USWNT would end its World Cup before the semifinals for the first time. The Americans also ended their tournament on a 238-minute scoring drought, their longest in Women’s World Cup history.

“To be able to perform in that way, it’s a lot of hard work that’s been put in over a lot of years that nobody sees,” Mušović said. “The main reason why I’m a goalkeeper is because I give my team the opportunity to win the game. I can only do my best and you can only love the feeling of when you’re in the zone and stuff is happening in a way that you’re just doing it.

“I had a really good feeling before the game. I know we were facing a really good opponent in the U.S., ranked No. 1 in the world. We had a good feeling in the squad, we know what we are capable of. It was the game style, just go out and do your best, have each other’s backs and stay humble throughout the whole game.”

Mušović was named player of the match, and teammate Magdalena Eriksson said there’s little doubt her performance will be long remembered. Among the highlights were a block of a Trinity Rodman shot in the 27th minute, a split-second reaction to deny a Lindsey Horan effort in the 53rd and a last-gasp deflection of an Alex Morgan header in the 89th.

“It’s gonna be historical,” Eriksson said. “Finally she gets to prove what she can do on the world’s biggest stage. We all know she had this in her and now she could finally prove it.

“I’m just so happy at the moment. Happy and confused because I feel like I don’t know what’s happened. I can’t believe that we managed to do that. It was such a difficult game for us. We relied a lot on [Mušović] having an amazing game and we managed to pull through to penalties and then we knew anything could happen.”