Group D
Sweden 2-3 England

 

 

Theo Walcott came on as a substitute for England to contribute hugely to their second-half turnaroud with a swerving effort from outside the box

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Olympic Stadium, Kiev


A majestic Danny Welbeck finish settled a see-saw battle as England beat Sweden for the first time in a competitive game in an extraordinary five-goal thriller to keep them in pursuit of qualifying from Group D while knocking their opponents out of Euro 2012.  

Andy Carroll- overlooked for their first group match against the French- came into the side as part of a more direct, attacking approach and opened the scoring for England with a header from Steven Gerrard's cross in the first half as England started well. However, Glen Johnson scored an own goal early after the restart when trying to clear a weak Olof Mellberg effort off the goalline but the Swedish defender headed in ten minutes later to give them the lead. England had to show resolve to turn it around as substitute Theo Walcott made an inspired impact scoring with a dipping effort within minutes of arriving on the pitch while the Arsenal winger set up the winner which was a fanciful flick from Danny Welbeck. It carried the Three Lions through a stern examination while they require just one more point to secure a quarter-final place following France's 2-0 victory earlier in the evening against Ukraine while Sweden were condemned to a difficult-to-take exit from the tournament after back-to-back defeats.

The Swedes, who have now scored in all twelve of Erik Hamren's matches in charge, made three changes from their disappointing 2-1 opening loss to the Ukranians as West Brom defender Jonas Olsson, former Bolton forward Johan Elmander and midfielder Anders Svensson were drafted in with strikers Ola Toivonen and Marcus Rosenborg as well as Celtic's Mikael Lustig dropping to the bench while Andreas Granqvist shifted to right-back.

England boss Roy Hodgson made just one alteration to the team which operatively defended to claim a 1-1 draw aganst France on matchday one with Gunners youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missing out having made his first competitive start in the Donetsk stalemate as Liverpool's Andy Carroll took his place with the system switched to a bold 4-4-2 formation. Wayne Rooney completed his suspension while full-back Martin Kelly was included in the squad after suffering with a virus this week. Reds team-mate Glen Johnson had been struggling with a toe infection but kept his place in the starting eleven.

The match's kick-off time was delayed by fifteen minutes after the thunderstorm before the Ukraine-France match forced play to be suspended for an hour whilst the conditions died down. Before the match, Sweden knew that they must avoid defeat against a team they knocked out at this stage in Euro 1992 to remain at Euro 2012 while the England were desperate to find the winning formula to keep their hopes of qualification for the next phase firmly alive.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

After conceding to Andy Carroll in the first half, seven of the last eight goals that Sweden had conceded were headers including two from Andriy Shevchenko in their first group stage game of Euro 2012.

 

A well-drilled Swedish side had captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who came into the game having netted in his last four internationals, at the focal point of the attack but found it difficult to find their way into the game as England started in a dominant fashion on the front foot enjoying the lions share of possession. In the seventh minute, Tottenham's Scott Parker extended goalkeeper Isaksson of Sweden with a lashed effort after some cultured build-up play which was completed by a slick pass from Welbeck as the match began with a significantly high-tempo in cooler conditions in Kiev.

It is always riveting when these two countries meet in footballing terms with their previous tournament meeting throwing up a 2-2 draw at the 2006 World Cup group stages in Gelsenkirchen while the Three Lions came out on top in a friendly between the two sides last November in front of a record low Wembley crowd as they reached the 20,000 goal milestone with a 1-0 victory in Fabio Capello's final match in charge.

The crosses which England were looking to utilise in a bid to play to Carroll's strengths weren't materialising early on with Manchester City's James Milner belatedly not getting enough on them as they were easily cleared by Mellberg and Olsson in defence for the Swedes. AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic, who criticised his team-mates' display after the Ukraine defeat, looked iscolated and a forlorn figure as his colleagues couldn't provide the service for him in the first half although he tried a shot which travelled through a colony of bodies bringing a relatively comfortable stop from Joe Hart.

Goalscoring chances had been few and far between as England hadn't penetrated a Swedish backfour whom all of its members had experienced Premier League football during their careers. But a Liverpool combination came up trumps on 24 minutes as Steven Gerrard crossed early on his right-foot with his Anfield team-mate Andy Carroll heading in accurately leaving former Manchester City goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson stranded as he found space between the two central defenders to score his first England goal on his fifth appearance for the senior national side.

Sweden couldn't hold possession for long spells failing to stitch together a collection of passes with no avid ballwinner in the central midfield areas such as Scott Parker. Ashley Young couldn't add to the four goals he has managed in his last six England caps when pulling a shot wide of the target on 36 minutes while Lyon's Kim Kallstrom fizzed over after given room to manouevre on the edge of the box as England looked to retain the ball while not being overly-ambitious in their attack-minded attitudes.

However, England's tendency to sit back on a slender lead returned to haunt them at the start of the second half as the Swedish were back on level terms after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's free-kick ricocheted against the England wall to a lurking Olof Mellberg whose tame shot bounced against Glen Johnson before agonosingly trickling over the line in spite of the right-back's to keep the ball out. It was a goal that very few saw coming but the Liverpool defender had to stay focused to knock the ball away from Rasmus Elm who chased a terrific through-pass from former Southampton player Svensson minutes later as the equaliser galvanised the Swedes.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

England left-back Ashley Cole was making his 20th tournament appearance for England surpassing the country's previous record.

 

The increase in poise and purpose helped the Swedish to take a surprise lead just before the hour mark with Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson whipping in one of his trademark free-kicks with nobody whatsoever tracking Juventus defender Mellberg, on his twelfth appearance at the Euros for Sweden overtaking a country record, who headed home as the fortunes changed for a delighted Erik Hamren in the dugout. The Three Lions' arch nemesis were in a position to stretch their seven-match unbeaten streak against their favoured opponents as they improved massively from the first half but within a matter of minutes England were back in the game.

Hodgson, who had coaching spells in Sweden thirty years ago with Malmo and Halmstead winning seven league championship titles putting the two clubs on the footballing map, had reacted immediately after falling behind with the positive introduction of winger Theo Walcott for the booked Milner and the change paid off as the Arsenal road-runner looked in the mood. Firstly, John Terry was inexplicably thwarted by Isaksson with a close-range downward header from Glen Johnson's cross before the resulting corner couldn't be cleared sufficiently as it sat kindly for Walcott who dipped a cracker from inside the penalty arc which moved awkwardly in the air.

At the other end, the Swedes had a couple of half chances with Martin Olsson doing magnificently to leave Johnson and Walcott for dead on the left hand side before keeping his head up to cut it back for Kallstrom who slammed a sidefooter over the bar under pressure from Joleon Lescott. Ibrahimovic was a livewire against the rugged England rearguard with his fine effort drawing a decent two-handed save from Hart with the Swedes playing with their own sense of urgency feeling as though they could win the match.

An incredible second half turned around for England as they re-took the advantage with thirteen minutes remaining larely down to another Walcott contribution as the winger, who earlier scored for the first time for his country since a hat-trick against Croatia in October 2008, accelerated past two static Swedish defenders to guide a cross into Welbeck who improvised with a touch of class with his back to goal with a graceful flick of the boot to turn the ball past Isaksson for a goal celebrated with joy from an animated Roy- unbeaten against Sweden in his managerial career.

Late on, understandably a couple of nervy moments from England crept in, however on the breakaway they powered forward in stoppage time surging in numbers with Gerrard's volley thwarted at the back post by a miraculous chest save by the Swedish keeper as he and Oxlade-Chamberlain were both queuing up inside the box to score.

It was the first time that England had scored more than once in a game under Hodgson while they now need a point in their final Group D match against co-hosts Ukraine to guarantee their passage to the last eight on Tuesday while they can finish top if they can better France's result with Les Bleus taking on Sweden who became the second side to leave the tournament after the Republic of Ireland's swift departure on Thursday.

 

 

ANALYSIS:  Sweden 2-3 England
Adam Higgins- Chief Football Editor reporting in Kiev


"It was a fantastic second half after a scrappy and rather boring first period it has to be said. It was all going so well and according to plan for England with their 1-0 lead thanks to a great cross from Gerrard and wonderful header from Andy Carroll who couldn't possibly have got a better cross than that. But it all quickly changed for them after the break- it was unfortunate for Glen Johnson for the own goal and cannot blame him for it although no-one was thinking that there was more to come from the Swedes. That was poor defending and against a well-drilled side with a setpiece specialist in Larsson, you cannot afford to leave people free like they did with Mellberg- you cannot really say that Sweden deserved to take the lead. Walcott made a difference scoring and setting one up and it was a great finish from Danny Welbeck. What an important goal it was and it has left England in a good position to qualify bearing in mind they finish the job against Ukraine on Tuesday. They needed to win and they have only just scraped through." 

 

 

 

 

Friday 15th June                   UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                 Group D                  Olympic Stadium, Kiev 


Sweden 2-3 England                                         KO 8pm  (scheduled for 7:45pm)              Live on BBC1/HD            (HT 0-1)

G Johnson 49 (og)      Carroll 24
Mellberg 59                  Walcott 64
                                       Welbeck 78

 

 

 

Sweden:

(4-4-2)


1 Andreas Isaksson-  7/10  Made one or two fine saves but also had one or two of those moments where you felt that he could have done better. A mediocre game for the goalkeeper.

4 Andreas Granqvist-  5.5/10  Kept playing a lot of aimless balls into the England box which were never going to reach his centre forwards and looked poor playing out of position at right-back. Eventually taken off.  

13 Jonas Olsson-  6.5/10  Had a late headed chance and was restored after missing first game- could have read the game better and physically struggled against Andy Carroll's height advantage over him.

3 Olof Mellberg-  7.5/10  Considering he is on the verge of retirement, he pulled the years back with a great performance both in defence and the other box. Claimed the first goal but didn't get it but still managed to get his name on scoresheet.

5 Martin Olsson-  7/10  A quiet game for left-back but had one great moment when he deceived Walcott and Johnson to get a cutback across to his colleague. Couldn't handle the speed of Walcott when he came on as shown in the winning goal.

7 Sebastian Larsson-  7.5/10  A Premier League quality player with an eye for a goal and a set-piece expert as shown for second goal with ball in. Booked in second half and he helped the Swedes to push forward using width.

9 Kim Kallstrom-  7/10  Decent performance in midfield overall- the first half was a none event for him but showed good purpose and more aggression in his place.

8 Anders Svensson-  6.5/10  Passed the ball well and crisply in second half as Swedes gained momentum but lost possession occasionally late on and his ageing legs were taking their toll in latter stages.

6 Rasmus Elm-  7/10  Made one or two slight openings at the start of the second half after being rather uninvolved in the action for opening 45 minutes. Couldn't make a great contribution.

10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C)-  7.5/10  Looked like making things happen when the Swedes crossed the halfway line and always looked like scoring but couldn't add his name to the scoresheet. Pulled off Elmander to receive ball shooting when he had the chance to.

11 Johan Elmander-  6.5/10  Came back to make his first start but couldn't work as hard as he normally does in terms of physical exertion while he didn't look a threat in the attacking third.

 

Substitutes bench:-
12 Wiland (GK), 23 Hansson (GK), 2 Lustig, 15 Antonsson, 17 Safari, 16 Wernbloom, 18 Holmen, 19 Bajrami, 21 Wilhelmsson,  14 Hysen, 20 Toivonen, 22 Rosenberg.

 

Subs used:

Lustig (for Granqvist-  65 mins)-  3/10  Gave the side a more prominent attacking force down right hand side when coming on but was a little suspect defensively. Much better than Granqvist mind you.

Rosenberg (for Elmander-  79 mins)-  2/10  Didn't do anything to change the match whatsoever- barely got a touch as England saw out the last ten minutes hanging by a thread.

Wilhelmsson (for Elm-  81 mins)-  1.5/10  The ex-Bolton winger had come on simply to try to give the Swedes the impetus after conceding but they couldn't pass the ball to him to get him running forward towards England defenders.

 

Booked:       Mellberg (63), J Olsson (71)

 

Sent-off:       None

 

 

 

England:

(4-4-2)


1 Joe Hart-  7/10  Had to make some saves in the second half, controlled his box well coming out at the feet of Swedish players to smother. His starting position was principallly good but aspects of his game need serious improvement on evidence of his showing.

2 Glen Johnson-  7/10  Probably England's best defender on the night for his attacking exploits which he normally provides well but made a couple of good tackles too. Was unfortunate about the own goal having looked to have done enough to clear it.

6 John Terry-  6.5/10  Suspect for second goal but made a couple of important tackles and interceptions while headed away a lot of crosses taking command of certain situations.

15 Joleon Lescott-  6.5/10  Wasn't at his best in defence with an array of misplaced headers while.

3 Ashley Cole-  6.5/10  Made several forward runs while Sebastian Larsson didn't get much luck when he was trying to get the better of him. Stayed solid mostly although did roll around a couple of times trying to fool the referee to give a free-kick.

16 James Milner-  6/10  One of his last actions was to get booked for trip on Martin Olsson- got a lot of early crosses into the box for Carroll. Worked hard for the team- replaced after an hour.

4 Steven Gerrard (C)-  9/10  A captain's performance, always leading the team and doing his bit to engineer the team providing the ammunition once more with a perfect cross for Carroll opening goal. Should have scored himself late on.

17 Scott Parker-  7/10  Chased every ball towards the end working hard for the team- had a superb effort well saved in first few minutes and kept the balance between attack and defence running smoothly.

11 Ashley Young-  6/10  Couldn't impose his threat on the wing and had a poor game in comparison to his normal standards. Stayed mostly on the left but cannot be happy with his involvement.

9 Andy Carroll-  8.5/10  A great goal to kick-start his account for England and did cause one or two problems in the Swedish defence winning a lot of free-kicks. Put himself about well.

22 Danny Welbeck-  7.5/10  Scored the winning goal which has kept England's hopes of qualifying firmly on course- worked well with Carroll and showed one or two bursts of pace going forward carrying the ball. A terrific finish- a display to be happy with.

 

Substitutes bench:-
13 Green (GK), 23 Butland (GK), 5 Kelly, 12 Baines, 14 Jones, 18 Jagielka, 7 Walcott, 8 Henderson, 19 Downing, 20 Oxlade-Chamberlain, 21 Defoe.

 

Subs used:

Walcott (for Milner-  60 mins)-  6/10  What a contribution he has made- he hasn't shown his greatest form for the country in the past but scored a really good equaliser and set up the winning goal for Welbeck.

Oxlade-Chamberlain (for Welbeck-  89 mins)-  1/10  Could have scored had Gerrard left the ball- was waiting for several minutes on touchline to come on meaning his contribution was sparse.

 

Booked:       Milner (57)

 

Sent-off:       None  

My Man of the Match:   Steven Gerrard (England)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Andreas Granqvist (Sweden)- Rating 5.5/10 

 

 

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)- 9/10
Attendance: 64,460

 

 

Match Facts:


Possession: Sweden- 48%                England- 52%

Shots at goal: Sweden- 12                 England- 15

Shots on target: Sweden- 9                 England- 8

Shots off target: Sweden- 3                 England- 7

Corners: Sweden- 3                     England- 3

Fouls: Sweden- 11                     England- 9

Offsides: Sweden- 0                     England- 0

Assists: Sweden- 2 (Ibrahimovic, Larsson)                     England- 2 (Gerrard, Walcott)

 

 

 

MANAGERS COMMENTS & REACTION:


Sweden head coach Erik Hamren:  "We did not play a good first match even if we should have taken points. Today it feels like we were the best team, but it isn't always the best team that wins. It is about taking points, and we didn't do that. It doesn't really matter now we are out of the tournament, but it is clear that we played much better today. We were definitely better than England, but they are leaving with the points, so what can you say? Their equaliser [to make it 2-2] happens once in a thousand. It was a [poor] shot that he took, that I should have covered, and it hit me and deflected past the goalkeeper. The last goal, it's one against four, like with Ukraine, so it is things like that that decide the outcome. We have not done well enough. I think we were the better team today, I really do. We had to come from behind, but scored and made it 2-1, and then they scored two more, and that was such bad luck for us. We played better, we were better. In both the games we have played, we were in the lead, but after 60 minutes, we lost it all. Today, we should be proud of ourselves because we played a good game. We played just the way we wanted to play, but they scored three goals and we only scored two."

England head coach Roy Hodgson:  "I believe in him (Walcott). He's a good player and has good qualities. I'd be lying if I said I knew the players as well as everyone else. You've seen them play for England on so many occasions. I've worked with them for one month and I'm still learning about what they're good at and finding areas for improvement. I was very pleased with the performance of the two front players, and of course Theo's contribution was enormous. To come on as a sub and score such a good goal and set up a winner, he's got to be very pleased with his contribution. I'm happy going into the final group game knowing a draw or win see us through. Our goal is making certain that we continue doing what we've done in the four matches [Hodgson has been in charge] and not slip from that standard. Against Ukraine, a player like Rooney can make a major difference and I am delighted to welcome him back. If I did leave him out, all hell might break loose in the dressing room. Rooney is a striker that sometimes drops deep like Ashley Young did in the first game [against France] and [Sweden striker] Zlatan Ibrahimovic did today. I'll probably push Ashley to the wing when Wayne comes back."


Click here for reaction from England boss Roy Hodgson after the game

Click here to listen to England goalscorers after Sweden win

 

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