A lightning storm in the second half saw the players taken off the pitch for 40 minutes before Kosovare Asllani shot into the roof of the net in the 83rd minute to give Sweden a deserved lead. Substitute Madelen Janogy scored a fine individual goal, dribbling past several Chile players, to add a second in the fifth minute of injury time.
The Europeans had earlier been frustrated by Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who made a spectacular one-handed stop on the line to keep out Nilla Fischer’s close-range glancing header.
Sweden, beaten 2-1 by Germany in the 2016 Olympic Games final in Rio, had 24 shots and 69% of possession against a Chile side who were playing in their first match at a World Cup finals.
However, the Swedes were wasteful in front of goal with Elin Rubensson heading at Endler and Stina Blackstenius firing over and then heading off target when unmarked six yards out.
Blackstenius again headed wide and Chelsea defender Magdalena Eriksson curled a shot over before the players were taken off the pitch in the 72nd minute because of thunder and lightning, after the first half had been played in glorious sunshine.
Chile, ranked 39th in the world, 30 places below the Europeans, again had to soak up pressure when the game restarted with Endler making another fine save by tipping over Sofia Jakobsson’s shot from the edge of the penalty area.
But the Paris St-Germain goalkeeper was finally beaten with seven minutes left, before Janogy took advantage of some tired Chile players to double Sweden’s advantage.
The South Americans repeatedly gave the ball away, did not win a corner and only had one weak shot on target. Karen Araya had two speculative 35-yard efforts, with one shot narrowly off target and the other held by Hedvig Lindahl, the goalkeeper who played her final game for Chelsea last month.
Chile’s winless run continues – the stats
- Chile women’s national team are still winless in all competitions in 2019 – nine matches (drawn three, lost six). Their last win came back in November 2018 (3-2 v Australia).
- Since Brazil won their first ever Women’s World Cup match back in 1991, beating Japan 1-0, each of the other four sides from South America playing in their first such match have all lost without scoring (Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile).
- Sweden have won a Women’s World Cup match for the first time since July 2011 (2-1 v France in a third-place playoff game), ending a run of four such games without a win (drew three, lost one).
- Sweden’s starting XI in their narrow victory over Chile had an average age of 29 years and 138 days, the oldest they have named in a Women’s World Cup match in what was their 34th game at the tournament.
- Kosovare Asllani’s opener for Sweden was their 20th attempt of the match and just their fifth on target. It was her 33rd strike for her country, but her first World Cup goal.
- Madelen Janogy has scored in both of her last two appearances for the Swedish national side having not scored in any of her first three games at senior international level.
- Chelsea left-back Magdalena Eriksson won her 50th cap for Sweden.
‘We’re very happy’ – what they said
Chile coach Jose Letelier said: “It was a really tough game for our team.
“We’ve been following Sweden as an opponent. We’ve looked at our physical fitness and this has been quite complex for our team. This created a difference between the teams and we’ve really had to look at all types of situations.
“Our players gave their all throughout the entire game. Of course, it was a difficult game and unfortunately, during the last 10 minutes the result changed.”
Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said: “We’ve been following Chile for many matches now and there are some very skilled players, not least their goalkeeper, so we knew this would be a tough match.
“We saw how they played tactically against the Netherlands and also the match against Germany – they scored one goal on a corner, and one on a free-kick. They never constructed much play, so we knew this would be a tough match.
“They’re a tactically skilled team and we’re very happy that we won.”
Sweden take on Thailand at 14:00 BST in Nice on Sunday, 16 June, before Chile face reigning world champions the United States three hours later in Paris.