Sweden midfielder Emil Forsberg on Tuesday netted the decisive goal midway through the second half to defeat Switzerland 1-0, sending his national team to its first FIFA World Cup quarterfinals since 1994.
Despite playing without star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from international duty at the end of Euro 2016, the Swedish side earned a victory based on solidity and surprise, which they had built up throughout the 2018 World Cup group stage and capped with winning Group F.
Switzerland midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, star of the team’s second-place run in Group E behind Brazil, was on the field Tuesday but failed to shine.
Sweden’s starting lineup included midfielder Gustav Svensson in place of the suspended Sebastian Larsson, while Switzerland had to replace captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and defender Fabian Schar with Michael Lang and Johan Djourou, respectively, and also opted for Josip Drmic as a forward.
Looking to reach its first World Cup quarterfinals since 1954, Switzerland began with a desire to attack but did little beyond mostly sterile possession (66 per cent in the first half).
After a first half marked with missed chances on both sides, Forsberg scored Sweden’s winner in the 66th minute from a shot deflected by Swiss defender Manuel Akanji.
In its third consecutive round-of-16 appearance, Switzerland fought to equalize in the last 24 minutes, but in vain, and ended up finishing with ten men on the field after Michael Lang was given a red card in the fourth minute of extra time.
Sweden is set to play the quarterfinals on July 7 against the winner of the World Cup last-16 match between England and Colombia, due to be held later on Tuesday.