Sweden survive Swiss pressure to make quarter-finals
By Patrick Woods
Sweden has survived a late Swiss onslaught in St Petersburg to win 1-0 and progress to a quarter-final against England.
The Scandinavians took the lead in the 66th minute through Emil Forsberg, before battening down the hatches in defence to hold onto their slim lead.
The win continues the fairytale for Sweden which surprised many by topping its group when not expected to even progress to the knockout stages.
— FIFA World Cup ???? (@FIFAWorldCup) July 3, 2018
Both teams took some time to settle into the match, finding it hard to string together any meaningful possession.
Switzerland started to take control of the game and by half-time had enjoyed 66 per cent of possession even though both sides had recorded seven shots apiece on-goal.
After the break, the Swiss continued where they left off, controlling the pace of the game but struggling to break down the Swedish defence.
They started to build their pressure with a string of corners but Sweden’s goalkeeper Robin Olsen dominated his area and nullified any aerial threat from the Swiss.
The match was a cagey affair with goal-scoring opportunities at a premium but it came to life midway through the second half when Forsberg received a pass on the edge of the box and unleashed a powerful right-foot shot.
Goalkeeper Yann Sommer looked set to make a simple save but Swiss defender Manuel Akanji stuck out a foot to stop the shot but only succeeded in deflecting it into the top-left corner of the net, completely wrong-footing Sommer.
After the goal, Sweden was even more inclined to sit back and Switzerland became increasingly frustrated as the minutes ticked by taking ambitious shots from well outside the box.
The Swiss continued to push players forward but were open to a counter-attack and in the dying moments of the match, Sweden’s Martin Olsson was through on-goal only to be brought down from behind by Michael Lang as he entered the box.
The Swiss defender was given a red card and the referee pointed to the spot but a VAR check found the foul had occurred outside the box and the penalty decision was overturned.
Switzerland will go home disappointed in their inability to capitalise on chances against a team ranked 18 places below them in the FIFA rankings.
Sweden will face England in the final eight where a semi-final berth against either Russia or Croatia will be the prize.
Shot Attempts (On Target):
Sweden: 11 (2)
Switzerland: 18 (4)
Sweden: 1 Olsen (GK), 2 Lustig (82’), 3 Lindelöf, 4 Granqvist (c), 6 Augustinsson, 8 Ekdal, 10 Forsberg (81’), 13 Svensson, 17 Claesson, 9 Berg (90’), 20 Toivonen
Substitutes: 5 Olsson (81’), 11 Guidetti, 12 Johnsson (GK), 14 Helander, 15 Hiljemark, 16 Krafth (82’), 18 Jansson, 19 Rohden, `21 Durmaz, 22 Thelin (90’), 23 Nordfeldt (GK)
Switzerland: 1 Sommer (GK), 5 Akanji, 6 Lang, 13 Rodriguez, 20 Djourou, 10 Xhaka, 11 Behrami (c), 14 Zuber (73’), 15 Dzemaili (73’), 23 Shaqiri, 19 Drmic
Substitutes: 3 Moubandje, 4 Elvedi, 7 Embolo (73’), 8 Freuler, 9 Seferovic (73’), 12 Mvogo (GK), 16 Fernandes, 17 Zakaria, 18 Gavranovic, 21 Bürki (GK)