Swiss, Colombians Vanquished, Sweden and UK Move On

Sweden’s Emil Forsberg (No. 10) celebrates scoring his side’s only goal against Switzerland.
Sweden’s Emil Forsberg (No. 10) celebrates scoring his side’s only goal against Switzerland.

A deflected shot from Emil Forsberg gave Sweden a 1-0 victory over Switzerland in a scrappy round of 16 match on Tuesday, sending the Swedes through to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 24 years.

Both teams were wasteful in possession and guilty of the sort of poor finishing and unimaginative midfield play that had boos and whistles ringing around the St Petersburg stadium from as early as the 25th minute, Reuters reported.

Switzerland came into the match as the side with arguably the greater wealth of attacking talent, but its four shots on target over the 90 minutes told its own story.

Sweden had one attempt fewer on target, with the only difference being that one effort took a heavy deflection and wrong-footed Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer to send the Swedes into the next round.

“It’s the biggest goal of my career, one of the biggest moments in my career too. To experience this, to fire Sweden into the quarterfinals, it feels fantastic,” said Forsberg.

The Swedes were happy to pack midfield as they have done for the entire tournament and shepherd the Swiss down the wings, surrendering possession while looking to pinch a goal on the counter.

The teams went into the interval goalless and the second half started in a similarly stultifying manner, with the game looking like it was inching inevitably towards extra time and potentially a penalty shootout.

But Sweden won the game and a meeting with England awaits Janne Andersson’s side in the next round.

  End of Penalty Pain

England finally overcame nearly 30 years of penalty pain when it beat Colombia 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday after drawing the World Cup last-16 clash 1-1 following extra time after the South Americans had equalized in the 93rd minute.

Beginning with the 1990 semifinal heartache against West Germany, England had previously lost all three World Cup shootouts and three out of four in the European Championship and looked on course for another nightmare when midfielder Jordan Henderson saw his spot-kick saved by David Ospina.

But Colombia’s Mateus Uribe hit the bar and England’s Jordan Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca, leaving Eric Dier to score the decisive penalty and earn a quarterfinal against Sweden, while denying the Colombians a second straight run to the last eight.

England’s coach Gareth Southgate should be given credit for insisting his players practice penalties, even bringing in a psychologist to help them, after a succession of his predecessors wrote the whole process off as a lottery beyond their control.

“We have fantastic supporters who have had to stand with us through decades of disappointment and this was a really special moment for our country,” Southgate said.

 “Today will give belief for generations to follow and not be hindered by history or expectations. The players have really executed everything (in the shootout) that we’ve talked about exceptionally well and we showed incredible resilience to come back from huge disappointment at the final whistle and keep our calm,” the coach added.

If England gets past Sweden, it faces a potential semifinal against host Russia or Croatia for the first appearance in a final since winning the World Cup for the only time in 1966.

England had looked set to be going through with few dramas when tournament leading scorer Harry Kane smashed in a 57th-minute penalty, his sixth goal at the tournament, only for Yerry Mina to head an equalizer in the third minute of stoppage time.

 “We were so unlucky not to go through in 90 minutes,” said Kane, who also converted his shootout kick along with Marcus Rashford and Kieran Tripper. “No one laid on the floor and we stood there when it counted.”


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