Sweden's Emil Forsberg, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring the game’s only goal. Pic: Ap
Sweden's Emil Forsberg, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring the game’s only goal. Pic: Ap

Forsberg fires Sweden to 24-year high

FOR the first time since USA 1994, Sweden are through to the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Swedes continued to defy the odds to deliver a shock 1-0 victory over Switzerland, with livewire Emil Forsberg producing two moments of magic to seal the win.

Switzerland's Michael Lang was sent off in injury-time for a last-ditch push on Martin Olsson and referee Damir Skomina downgraded his penalty to a free-kick on the edge of the area. But the game was already up.

A match which was typically defensive in style, played between two cagey outfits, it was the 26-year-old RB Leipzig winger who scored the game's only goal - firing home in the 66th minute to break the deadlock.

TOPSHOT - Switzerland's forward Xherdan Shaqiri ce
TOPSHOT - Switzerland's forward Xherdan Shaqiri ce

Forsberg made the most of a Swiss defender slipping at the top of the box, giving him just enough space to unleash a shot - which took a wicked deflection off Swiss defender Manuel Akanji, who stuck out his right boot but was only able to knock it clear of goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

Forsberg then turned saviour at the other end of the pitch, saving a goal off the line as Breel Embolo fired a header goalwards.

The two sides had played out a quiet, goalless first half, in which it was apparant both teams lacked a ruthless goalscorer to break the game open.

Both teams had chances but lacked the ruthless goalscorer to convert their many opportunities.

For the Swiss, most eyes are on Xherdan Shaqiri - and perhaps Granit Xhaka's long-range efforts - but the best of their attack has come through left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, who has found space down the left and put in more than a handful of enticing crosses.

Referee Damir Skomina from Slovenia, second left, shows a yellow card to Sweden's Mikael Lustig. Pic: AP
Referee Damir Skomina from Slovenia, second left, shows a yellow card to Sweden's Mikael Lustig. Pic: AP

The Swiss butchered some golden chances to make an impact on the game - with midfielder Albin Ekdal, firing two excellent chances over the cross bar.

Having never scored in international football before, Ekdal was an odds-on chance of squashing that record when he latched onto a glorious cross from Mikael Lustig - only to sidefoot it over the bar from a handful of metres out.

Rather than let loose, both teams tightened after the interval, and Forsberg's goal came out of the blue. With space on the edge of the box, his dummy did for Granit Xhaka before the shot was helped in by the outstretched foot of Akanji.

Switzerland players look dejected following their defeat. Pic: Getty
Switzerland players look dejected following their defeat. Pic: Getty

Switzerland twice went close to grabbing an equaliser, as Djourou's header dribbled agonisingly across the goal-line and substitute Haris Seferovic drew a late save from close range.

Olsson was pushed in the back by Lang with only Sommer to beat in injury-time, with Skomina initially awarding a penalty but changing his decision to a free-kick after he consulted the replay. Lang's red card stood and Sweden held on.

Lustig picked up a first-half yellow card, which will force him to miss Sweden's quarter-final.

The win ends a 24-year wait since Sweden last reached the last eight, while it is bad news for Switzerland - who haven't advanced to a World Cup quarter-final since they hosted the tournament in 1954.



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