By Andrew Downie
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Favorites the United States crashed out of the women’s soccer tournament on penalties on Friday but host nation Brazil advanced from the quarter-finals the same way on a day of surprise and high drama.
Sweden eliminated the U.S, recording one of the sport’s biggest shocks by beating the holders 4-3 on penalties after the two sides drew 1-1 after extra time.
Lisa Dahlkvist converted Sweden’s final penalty after Alex Morgan and Christen Press missed for the world champions in the shootout. Linda Sembrant also missed for Sweden.
The U.S., who dominated large parts of the match, have won four of the last five Olympic golds and had never failed to reach the Games final.
Sweden will be joined in the last four by Brazil who beat Australia 7-6 in an even more dramatic penalty shoot out.
The teams were tied 0-0 after extra time at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte.
Marta, the five-times world player of the year, missed Brazil’s fifth penalty of the shootout but Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara saved Australia’s last spot kick from Katrina Gorry to take it to sudden death.
Tamires converted her kick before Alanna Kennedy missed hers to send the home fans into raptures.
Germany, who beat China 1-0, and Canada, who overcame France by the same margin, also advanced to the semi-finals.
Melanie Behringer got the winner for Germany after 76 minutes while Wang Shuang missed a penalty for China with eight minutes to go.
Germany will face Canada in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, after the North Americans progressed thanks to a 56th minute goal from Sophie Schmidt gave them victory over France.
Brazil will face Sweden in Rio de Janeiro on the same day.
Sweden scored against the United States after 61 minutes when Stina Blackstenius ran on to a defense-splitting pass and calmly slotted the ball past U.S. keeper Hope Solo.
The U.S., however, kept plugging away and scored a deserved equalizer after 77 minutes as the ball ricocheted off the face of Jessica Samuelsson and fell perfectly for Morgan to fire home from eight meters.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis and Frank Pingue)