Kosovare Asllani set Sweden on its way to a 2-1 victory over England for third place in the Women’s World Cup on Saturday night but the midfielder almost didn’t play in the bronze medal match.
Asllani was taken off the field on a stretcher during Wednesday’s semifinal loss to the Netherlands following a head injury and was taken to hospital. And the 29-year-old revealed that as late as Friday she was told that she wouldn’t be able to play in the match in Nice.
“Yesterday, I got a ‘no’ about playing from our medical staff. But we did the test again today and it was positive,” an emotional Asllani said. “I felt it was going to take a lot for me to miss this game but I really gave it my all and I feel in every per cent of my body that I’ve given it all.”
It was a third bronze medal for Sweden, which also finished as the runner-up in 2003.
Asllani gave the Swedes the lead in the 11th minute as they took advantage of early struggles by England.
Alex Greenwood had plenty of time to clear Fridolina Rolfo’s cross but sent it straight into the path of Asllani, who drilled it into the bottom right corner. England goalkeeper Carly Telford got a hand on it but couldn’t keep it out of the net.
Sweden was up 2-1 when Asllani was substituted out at halftime.
“When I got another hit on my head in the first half I felt like, ‘Nah, it’s time for someone else to get in,”‘ Asllani said. “I’m proud of the team and proud of myself and just everything right now. I got another knock but everything is worth it right now.”
Sofia Jakobsson had doubled Sweden’s lead before England got into the game with Fran Kirby halving the deficit in the 31st minute when she cut in from the right, beat her defender and curled in off the base of the left post.
Ellen White thought she had tied the score two minutes later but her goal was ruled out after the video review determined there had been a handball. The forward had also had what would have been an equalizing goal ruled out in the semifinal loss to the United States.
“I haven’t really seen it back. I’ve got contact but she shoved me, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” White said. “I didn’t feel like it touched my arm really. I’ve done everything to try and score the goal.