On November 25th at the Gamla Ullevi in Gothenburg, a roaring crowd attended the World Cup qualifier match between Sweden and Finland.
This was the night where Sweden’s captain, Caroline Seger of FC Rosengård made her 224th international appearance. This was also the night where Amanda Ilestedt earned her 50th cap in blue and yellow.
The night where Fridolina Rolfö scored her 20th goal for her country in 60 appearances, and the night where Magdalena Eriksson wore the captain’s armband.
It was also a night at Gamla Ullevi stadium where 13,429 people cared about women’s football.
The story of the match
In a match where Sweden were seen as favourites beforehand, there were also some clouds in the sky. There was the absence of many Swedish stars. Stina Blackstenius, Kosovare Asllani, Anna Anvegård, and captain Seger all missed the opening kick-off. There were discussions on how Sweden were going to cope.
With players like Natalia Kuikka and Emma Koivisto along with many established players in Scandinavia, Finland are known to cause trouble for their opponents.
Just ask Scotland, who missed out on their chance to qualify for the Euros. Facing the white and yellow Vikings from the Nordics, an injury time goal sank the Scots.
Amanda Rantanen coming on the pitch in the final minutes of the game Friday stirred memories. Many of us were probably thinking of that moment she scored (with her face) after a counterattack in Glasgow.
First half strikes
However, it was the Swedes who took charge of this game early. Just 11 minutes in, Lina Hurtig found a deep running Rolfö with a delicious through-pass and the Barcelona forward quickly buried her chance.
Playing in what many would call the world’s best club team right now, Rolfö is in the form of her life. When she scored, it felt like Finland were going to have a long night at Gamla Ullevi. But, they bounced back.
Ria Öling, who seemed to have found inspiration from Sweden’s goal, spotted an open Linda Sällström. The midfielder had found the space she needed in between Eriksson and Jonna Andersson, and scored the equaliser. This was the first goal Sweden had conceded in this World Cup qualification.
The late winner
It wasn’t until the 79th minute that Sweden would get their winning goal. Substitutions Seger, Johanna Rytting-Kaneryd and Mimmi Larsson made their presence felt.
Sweden started to make serious threats for the Finnish defenders, and finally broke through. Filippa Angeldahl got the ball outside the box on the right-hand side. Her hard cross came to a diving Hurtig, and she notched the winner home.
The volley sealed the deal, and more than 13,000 people in the stands erupted. The fans celebrated together with Sweden as they won 2-1 to go top of their WWCQ 2023 group.
And 13,429 cared
The set-up in the 18,416 capacity Gamla Ullevi was magical. A total of 13,429 fans came out to cheer their heroes. And they cared. Every single one of them. You could really tell. And the players obviously appreciated their fans. Taking extra laps around the stadium after the final whistle, they showed that they also cared.
Things have definitely turned. What we are seeing is a long-awaited change in the women’s game.
On Tuesday, November 30th, Sweden play Slovakia in Malmö. If this trend continues, there should be people that care in the stands there as well. One thing is for sure, football is nothing without its fans. And people do care about women’s football.