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Sweden send Switzerland packing and book spot in World Cup quarter-finals

3 Jul, 2018 15:53
Sweden send Switzerland packing and book spot in World Cup quarter-finals
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© Lee Smith / Reuters

Emil Forsberg’s deflected second-half goal gave Sweden a 1-0 victory over Switzerland to book their place in the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 24 years.

Forsberg struck on 66 minutes in St. Petersburg when his shot deflected off the right boot of Manuel Akanji and into the net, handing Sweden victory in a game characterized by poor finishing.

The result means Sweden set up a quarter-final match in Samara on July 7, where they will meet the winners of Tuesday’s England versus Colombia game.  

Both the Swedes and Swiss went into the game at Saint Petersburg Stadium knowing that their side of the World Cup last 16 draw had opened up to provide a golden opportunity for an unfancied team to reach the final.  

Switzerland looked to be more intent on seizing that opportunity at the outset, controlling possession in the first half and with much of the play flowing through Xherdan Shaqiri in midfield.

It was Shaqiri who crossed for Steven Zuber, but he headed over from 10 yards out when well-placed to break the deadlock on 24 minutes.

A speculative effort followed from midfield enforcer Granit Xhaka, while Blerim Dzemaili fired over on 38 minutes after neat link-up play with Zuber.

At the other end, Swedish midfielder Albin Ekdal should have done better when completely unmarked at the back post, but he volleyed wide from a cross as the teams went into half time level.

The second half continued in the same vein with wasteful finishing, including when Ola Toivonen fired over the bar for Sweden when inside the box.

When the deadlock was finally broken on 66 minutes it rather suitably came through a deflected strike rather than a clean finish.

Forsberg worked space on the edge of the box, firing a low shot that looked destined for Yann Sommer to save comfortably in the Swiss goal, before it deflected off the right boot of Akanji and spun into the net with the ‘keeper wrong-footed.

Switzerland went in search of the equalizer, making a double change on 73 minutes when they brought on strikers Haris Seferovic and Breel Embolo for Dzemaili and Zuber.

The Swiss huffed and puffed and Sweden were forced to scramble clear on several occasions, but Switzerland were ultimately unable to disassemble the flat-pack Swedish defense.

There was late drama when Sweden thought they had a penalty after Michael Lang pushed over Martin Olsson with the Swede bearing down on goal.

Referee Damir Skomina pointed to the spot and gave the Swiss defender a red card.

However, after lengthy consultation with VAR the decision was reversed to a free-kick as the barge was adjudged to have been outside the box, although the red card stood.

The subsequent free-kick effort was fired into the wall, but it was the last action of the game and Sweden’s win was secure.   

With the victory, Sweden head into the quarter-finals for the first time since their third-place finish in 1994, setting up a meeting with the winners of the England versus Colombia game in Moscow later on Tuesday.