The victory was vital to Sweden. Mexico grabbed a surprise 3 points from Germany in this group on Sunday, and most everyone thinks Germany will come roaring back. That leaves a narrow margin for these two teams to advance.
Sweden controlled the game for the most part, but both teams played strong defense, and a goal from open play always seemed unlikely. Perhaps Sweden missed their longtime star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a deadly finisher now retired from international play.
Sweden had 15 shots but few that really seemed likely to go in. South Korea managed just four.
In the 66th minute, Kim Min-Woo of South Korea brought down Viktor Claesson in the box. There was no immediate whistle despite the instant appeal by about four Swedish players.
A video review was called, and the pitch emptied for a minute. The penalty judgement duly came down, and few neutral observers disputed it.
Both Granqvist and keeper Cho went to their rights, and the ball sailed smoothly into the net.
South Korea, which had mostly been relying on the counter attack, picked up the pace after the goal and got the ball into dangerous areas a few times. But time ran out on the game, and probably on South Korea’s Cup hopes. They find themselves looking up at Mexico and Sweden in the group and tied with mighty Germany.
90’ + 1: So Close for South Korea
A big scare for Sweden here. South Korea missed another good opportunity to equalize when Hwang Hee-chan headed wide. That might’ve been South Korea’s best, and last, chance.
90’: South Korea Running Out of Time
South Korea just cannot break down Sweden’s defense, The good chances, much less the goals, are just not coming.
82’: South Korea Miss Their Moment
Free kick to South Korea after Granqvist kneed Hwang in the head. Cleared away. A shot by Lee Seung-woo was blocked just after. South Korea need that one magic moment.
80’: Sweden Pulling Back
South Korea is pressing for a goal now, but has failed to get many good chances. As time ticks away, a 1-0 looks more likely. A loss would come very near to eliminating South Korea, and Sweden will stay alive. But with Mexico already claiming a surprise 3 points against Germany, even Sweden will need to do more to advance.
66’: GOAL! Sweden
Andreas Granqvist went right, the keeper chose wrong, and Sweden is in front.
64’: Penalty Kick for Sweden
Some chaos in the South Korean box led to a penalty appeal that was declined. But a video review is called. Play stopped for a minute and the call came down. Penalty!
Sweden’s Viktor Claesson went down under the challenge from substitute Kim Min-Woo to draw the penalty.
62’: Both Teams Playing the Counter Attack
The game is settling into the classic international pattern. One team builds up, looking for a well-executed goal, while the other sits back, absorbs the pressure, and tries to spring a counterattack. Sweden is the buildup team and South Korea the counter team in this game.
59’: Close Calls on Both Ends
Jansson’s rocket header was saved brilliantly by Cho. The game is opening up. At the other end, Hwang’s dangerous cross was booted away … by Jansson, starring at both ends of the pitch.
53’: South Korea Hits the Netting
Koo sent a header into the side netting. Better from South Korea, but still not truly close to a goal.
50’: Forsberg Misses the Mark
Sweden got a 4-on 4 break, and after some passes Forsberg got it unmarked at the half moon. He sent his shot into the stratosphere though.
46’: South Korea Comes Out Swinging
No changes to the teams. Lee Yong’s early shot from a tight angle was saved easily.
Halftime: Sweden Controls, but No Score
Just before the whistle, a header by Claesson went just wide and high. Although South Korea had a few moments, Sweden got the better of the play and will fancy its chances to score in the second half.
Sweden has gotten the ball into the more dangerous positions, but has not been able to come up with that deadly finish. Perhaps there should have been a spot on this team for Zlatan Ibrahimovic after all … Here are the numbers: Ball possession: Sweden 61%-39%. Shots: Sweden 8-1. Corner: Sweden 5-1.
44’: South Korea Escapes a Close One
Ki pulled down Toivonen in the box and the cries for penalty went up. But the ref, Mr. Aguilar of El Salvador signaled for a corner. Sweden got two shots out of it but one was blocked and one saved.
36’: South Korea Makes a Little Noise
A South Korean counterattack led to a long, speedy run from halfway by Son. He made it to the end line and crossed, but a potentially exciting goal chance ended with the Swedish defense collecting.
29’: South Korea Loses Park Joo-ho
Park Joo-ho is down for extended treatment on what looks like a leg injury. Now he’s being lifted onto the stretcher. The game continues. And that’s the end of his day. Kim Min-woo will replace him.
20’: Sweden Getting More Chances
Sweden forced keeper Cho to punch a tricky ball out and are definitely getting the best of the chances so far.
19’: Close for Sweden
A back heel by Berg sprung Granquist free on goal. But a last second tackle by Kim of Korea saved the day. The best chance so far.
15’: Sweden Fails to Get a Shot Off
Sweden got their first extended threat, repeatedly zipping the ball through the box as South Korea failed to clear, Eventually keeper Cho collected the ball, and in the end Sweden never took a shot.
Both teams look well organized defensively, and we already know that both lack internationally recognized scorers. This could be a low-scoring affair.
7’: South Korea Threatens
Swedish keeper Robin Olsen was forced into the first save of the game, a lunging punch off a cross. Lee Seung-Woo followed with a header that went wide.
South Korea in white and Sweden in yellow.
This is not soccer’s fiercest rivalry, but the tension has been stirred up a bit in recent days after accusations that Sweden was spying on Korean practices. The Korean coach responded by claiming that he had his players wear different shirt numbers to confuse any possible snoops.
Bad News for Both Teams
South Korea and Sweden are both already in serious need of a win. With Mexico beating mighty Germany, those two teams seems to be in the driver’s seats for the top two spots in Group F. The loser here might well have to somehow beat Germany and Mexico to advance.