Having fun in shootouts, Hedvig Lindahl keeps Sweden alive

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl wouldn't mind a third straight penalty shootout for Sweden in the women's Olympic soccer final on Friday.

After all, it's when she gets to have some fun.

''If that's what it takes, I don't mind,'' Lindahl said Tuesday after leading Sweden to a 4-3 shootout win over host Brazil in the semifinals of the Olympic tournament. ''It's fun as a goalkeeper, you have nothing to lose. It's great.''

After making a penalty save that helped Sweden get past the U.S. women's team in the quarterfinals, Lindahl made two stops against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium to secure her team's spot in the Olympic final for the first time.

Sweden will face Germany on Friday, again at the Maracana.

''She is just very important for us,'' Sweden coach Pia Sundhage said of Lindahl. ''There's some sort of calmness, and the way she reads the game, not only saving shots. She is so important. The fact that we advanced after a shootout against the U.S. team and now against Brazil is huge for us.''

Lindahl had stopped Alex Morgan's opening penalty in the shootout against the Americans in Brasilia on Friday, when Sweden won 5-4 to upset the five-time gold medalists. She did even better at the famed Maracana on Tuesday, deflecting Cristiane's shot with her right arm and using both of her hands to push away Andressa's strike late in the shootout.

''It turned out well today,'' Lindahl said.

The 33-year-old goalkeeper said staying confident is her secret for her success in shootouts.

''I think that's all,'' Lindahl said. ''It's fun because someone said that Sweden hadn't been in a penalty shootout in one of these important games since 1996, and now it's two in a row. Just fun that it works out our way. It looks like everyone feels confident.''

Lindahl, who plays for Chelsea in England, has been named Swedish goalkeeper of the year five different times. She is playing in her fourth Olympics and also participated in three World Cups.

Brazil goalkeeper Barbara also had a chance to come up big in a shootout for the second straight time after she had thrived with two saves in the quarterfinals against Australia. She made one stop on Wednesday but it wasn't enough.

''Their goalkeeper played well and we were unlucky,'' said Barbara, who will face Canada in the bronze medal game. ''Last time we came out with the victory, but luck wasn't on our side this time.''

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

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