FULL-TIME – SWEDEN 1-0 SWITZERLAND What a finish to the game. Once again, we had stoppage-time drama the resolute Swedes held on. They were marginally the better side despite Swiss dominating possession for much of the contest. The men in red’s wait for a quarter-final spot stretches for another World Cup. They were in the last-eight in 1954.
Sweden continue to show immense mastery of the counter-attack. This is the third time a team has fallen prey to them. Germany made a last-gasp escape, though. This Swedish side can dream. While the game lacked the drama of a Belgium vs Japan, it certainly had intrigue. The finishing from both sides, though, left a lot to be desired.
90+6’ Toivonen’s free-kick has venom but Sommer parries it away. The referee blows the whistle and the Swedes jump in delight!
The decision is reviewed. The red card stands but Swedes only get a free-kick. The writing is on the wall for the hapless Swiss.
90+3’ RED CARD FOR LANG, PENALTY FOR SWEDEN
90+1’ CHANCE! Seferovic’s header was on target but once again, the forward didn’t an angle on the header. Straight to Olsen.
90’ We have reached the end of normal time. Three minutes added on. Swedes make their third substitute with Thelin coming on.
87’ Sweden are happy to let Swiss have the ball. They move the ball from flank to flank in search of answers. It’s just not working for them so far.
84’ Nope. There are crosses and a flurry of shots from Petkovic’s men but they cannot breach the Swiss wall. First, it was Rodriguez who flung his right boot and then Drmic got one on the turn. Those efforts didn’t even reach the goalkeeper.
81’ Olsson replaces goalscorer Forsberg while Krafth comes on for Lustig. Swiss need to find inspiration and Embolo is looking the most promising of the lot.
80’ Drmic comes close with a header but it was too straight to trouble Olsen, who gleefully pouches it. Frustrating time for the Swiss.
78’ Scrambled clearance from the Swedes. Forsberg this time stars the other end, clearing the ball off the line with a timely block. He can do no wrong in the game so far.
74’ Sweden make another interesting attack. This time Forsberg’s effort is seen out by the defence. Swiss make a double-change. Seferovic and Embolo come on.
73’ Sweden are happy to sit back and soak in pressure. Swiss attack at will and Shaqiri has moved to a quarter-back role, floating in crosses over the defence. No luck for the men in red so far.
70’ Shaqiri takes a shot from distance. That shot takes a deflection too but Olsen snatches it.
68’ Swiss come at their opponents and Ricardo Rodriguez takes a shot from distance but it goes straight into the waiting hands of Olsen.
That was so unfortunate for the Swiss. Forsberg found space outside the area and took a shot, which took a wicked deflection of Akanji’s outstretched legs and went into the net. Delight for the Swedes.
65’ GOAL! SWITZERLAND 0-1 SWEDEN (Forsberg)
60’ Oh, oh! Forsberg wins a foul at the edge of the Swiss box. It was a clumsy challenge from Behrami to be fair.
58’ Intricate passes, searching crosses but poor final ball and poorer finishing has been the Achilles Heel for the Sweden in the first half.
56’ Possession changes hands and Swedes have the ball.
53’ Swiss have the momentum and Sweden are pinned back in their own half. There is a stoppage in play as Ekdal clutches his knees in anguish.
52’ Swiss win a string of corners. There are nothing that that statuesque Swedes at the back can’t deal with.
49’ Now Shaqiri misses a chance to put his side in the lead! The right-wing cross from Lang was dangerous and the Swiss defence momentarily went to sleep. The Swiss playmaker misses his shot.
48’ Once again, Swiss fail to show composure in the area. Claesson makes a heroic cut-back from a cross for Toivonen with his head. Toivonen’s shot off a volley goes miles over the bar.
46’ It’s Sweden who set the pace for the second half.
We are back for the second half
Half-time – SWITZERLAND 0-0 SWEDEN: It’s been a cagey tactical battle between the two teams so far. The Swiss found their feet very early in the game but Janne Andersson’s side have slowed gained an upper hand. They nearly took the lead and Lustig should have done better with a volley. Let’s hope we see goals in the 2nd half.
45 +1’ The last bit of action of the half sees Olsen clearing a Rodriguez cross with a punch. The referee blows the whistle for a foul. And that is the last bit of action of the half.
42’ Swiss this time launch a few attacks to breach Granqvist and Co. as the clock runs down to the half-time whistle. A wave of attacks by the men in yellow seems to have woken Switzerland up.
40’ WHAT A CHANCE! Ekdal found himself free in acres of space at the back post after Lustig had found him with an inch-perfect cross from the right. The midfielder skews his volley over the bar.
37’ OHH! After two minutes of careless passing from both teams, the men in red produce a gem. Zuber makes a smart run to get to the by-line. His cut-back finds Dzemaili in space. Alas, the striker can’t control his shot and it goes over the bar.
35’ Swiss get a corner and yet again, the Swedes calmly deal with the Ricardo Rodriguez delivery.
33’ Xhaka takes a shot from almost 40 yards out. The Arsenal man’s shooting prowess from long range is well known and the ball just about goes over the bar. Olsen had to be watchful. One of the better efforts we have had so far.
31’ There was a half-chance for the Swiss, the ball takes a deflection and falls kindly for Olsen who makes no mistake in front of goal.
29’ LUSTIC GETS A YELLOW CARD for a stamp and a push on Drmic. He will miss Sweden’s next game. Meanwhile, the Swiss get a free-kick 35 metres from goal on the left-flank.
27’ Terrific pressure from Sweden. Brilliant save from Sommer. The ball lands in the area from a left-wing cross. There were shouts of hand-ball but the referee waves play. The ball bounced in front of Berg and the striker takes a left-foot shot. The was tipped away from a diving Sommer on his right.
25’ Long balls and cross still the outlet for both teams. Sweden have somewhat succeeded in getting behind the Swiss backline.
23’ Oooh! That was an exiting minute of play. We say this because we haven’t had too many so far. At one end, Berg comes close to meeting the end of a long ball. Swiss break quickly and Zuber cannot control his header, it goes wide of Olsen’s post. It was Shaqiri’s cross that set it up.
22’ Now, the tackles are flying in and who else but skipper Behrami to lead the way. He pulls down Forsberg from behind and the referee has a firm word with him.
We don’t support regional stereotypes, just so you know.
13’ There is no change in proceedings. Possession changes hands sloppily. Still there are no signs of any goalmouth action.
9’ The ball bounces towards the edge of the Swiss area and Ekdal runs in and thumps the ball from 25 yards out, it goes into orbit.
8’ SWEDISH PRESSURE. First, Berg gets behind the defence after being put through by Forsberg. From a promising position he hits well wide of the right hand post.
6’ SHOT but well watched by Swedish goalkeeper Olsen. Zuber got space on the left-wing and he cut in and shot straight to the keeper.
5’ The teams surge forward but can do very little to break behind the opposition’s defensive wall. That is the story of the game so far.
2’ No goalmouth action so far. Both teams have a sniff outside the area but very little comes of it. Midfield battle it seems.
The national anthems are underway
This was arguably one of the finest games in Switzerland’s footballing history. They hosted the 1954 edition, reaching the quarter-finals.
7:21 pm: Sweden, of course, went out through a golden goal at the same stage in 2002. Senegal, on that occasion, became only the second African team to reach the quarter-finals.
7:11 pm: Switzerland are yet to lose a game in the World Cup. In 2006, they went out of the round of 16 stage without conceding a single goal throughout the tournament, become the first team to exit in that manner. Ukraine emerged victorious through a penalty shootout to beat the unlucky Swiss.
7:00 pm: Switzerland have played a World Cup fixture on June 3 twice before this. They ended up winning both those games. They beat Yugoslavia 2-1 in 1974 and Saudi Arabia 3-1 in 1994.
6:50 pm: HEAD TO HEAD: Matches 28, Switzerland wins: 11, Sweden wins: 10, Draws: 7
This fixture also marks Sweden’s 50th World Cup fixture.
6:49 pm: This is the first time Switzerland and Sweden are facing off in a major competition (This includes the Euros). the head to head record between the teams is tantalizingly close.
6:48 pm: Yellow cards will be removed from a player’s account from the semi-finals onwards.
6: 47 pm: Reminder that skipper Litchsteiner and Fabian Schar have been suspended for this fixture after earning suspensions in the previous game. How much will this impact Switzerland’s chances?
6.30 pm: Switzerland have looked dangerous on the counter-attack, something that can be said about Sweden as well. The Swiss, have a a little more power up front with Dzemaili, Shaqiri, Embolo and Xhaka leading the line. The men in red also have a little more balance in the middle of the park.
There is no writing of Sweden’s chances, who are aiming for a first quarter-final berth since 1994. Only a scant few game them hopes of winning their last group game against Mexico, a task they went about in some style, nearly putting a spanner in the works of El Tri.
It’s a well documented fact that Xherdan Shaqiri tends to save his best for the big international stage with Switzerland and that is what makes him the player to watch out for going into this contest.
The former FC Basel and Bayern Munich player sprint from halfway and finish in the final minute to beat Serbia and fire the Swiss into a last-16 meeting with Sweden was a reminder of what he is capable of at his best.
However, the impact of that goal, his fourth at a World Cup after netting a hat-trick against Honduras four years ago, was largely lost in the furore caused by his celebration. Shaqiri’s generation are unlikely to get a better chance to make that breakthrough and reach a first World Cup quarter-final since 1954 than in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
After edging out the Netherlands in qualifying and beating four-time World Cup winners Italy in a playoff, Sweden finished top of Group F, ahead of both Mexico and the reigning champions, Germany. After edging out the Netherlands in qualifying and beating four-time World Cup winners Italy in a playoff, Sweden finished top of Group F, ahead of both Mexico and the reigning champions, Germany. It leaves them on the brink of their first World Cup quarter-final since 1994.
(With AFP inputs)