Emil Forsberg delivers, Sweden reaches World Cup quarterfinals

Virginia Santiago
July 7, 2018

Sweden are through to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1994 after a deflected goal from Emil Forsberg clinched a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

Emil Forsberg's right-foot shot deflected off defender Manuel Akanji and past the wrong-footed Yann Sommer.

The world's No. 6-ranked team played weighed down by that history of futility.

The Swiss finished the game with 10 men after Michael Lang was sent off for pulling down Martin Olsson as he raced through on goal. Sweden deserve credit and once again showed why they should not be underestimated, especially not by England, who they now face in the quarter final on Saturday.

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Totally understand all the counter-arguments, including momentum and, yes, the possibility of facing Colombia . The winners of Group G will meet either Brazil or Mexico in the quarter-finals if they defeat Japan on July 2.

They have a team that lacks star quality in the post-Zlatan Ibrahimovic era but they know what they are good at - and how to win football matches. Much of the pre-tournament talk was over whether they would miss Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from worldwide duty at the end of the 2016 European Championships, but they haven't missed the former Inter Milan and Manchester United striker.

A low-quality match featured some of the worst finishing seen so far at the World Cup, and two efforts stood out. Switzerland will be without right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner and central defender Fabian Schar while Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson is also out after picking up two yellow cards in the competition's first phase.

Forsberg had been linked with a near £50 million move to Liverpool and Arsenal after a brilliant first season in the Bundesliga saw him score eight goals and provide a league-leading 19 assists to fire Leipzig to second place behind Bayern Munich in 2016/17.

Striker Marcus Berg snatched a shot off target too after Ola Toivonen's deft flick created the opening and had another effort blocked.

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"It's my job to decide on the players who need to perform, in the case of a penalty shootout situation".

It was fortunate, but no more than Sweden deserved. Sommer was at full stretch to make that save. After holding Brazil to a 1-1 draw in their tournament opener, they edged past Serbia in a politically-charged game with goals from their superstars Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri.

In the 38th minute, the best scoring chance of the game came when some brilliant one-touch passing pierced the Swedish defence down the left before Blerim Dzemaili blasted over from inside the box. The cross was flawless for him, but rather than putting his head on it he sent a side-foot volley well over the crossbar. In the 57 minute, a moment of frustration lead Carlos Sanchez to tackle Harry Kane as a corner was crossed in, awarding England a penalty.

Having made a huge effort to help Sweden get to Russian Federation in the autumn, his club form dipped due to injury in the new year as Leipzig missed out a return to the Champions League. Close to an equaliser for Switzerland. Olsson was clean through on the break, it was the last chance of the match and he's brought down inside the area.

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The match started with Switzerland taking the upper hand in the match. Good use of VAR, that.

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