Sweden reach last 16 with win over Mexico

Kristopher Nichols
July 1, 2018

Last year, Sweden reached the World Cup in Russian Federation by out-muscling a technically superior Italy team in a playoff, and on Wednesday, they did exactly the same to Mexico to advance into the play-offs of the tournament in Russian Federation.

Mexico's Jesus Gallardo was called for a yellow card just 13 seconds in - believed to be the fastest in World Cup history - setting up the first of two quick set-piece opportunities Sweden could not take advantage of.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson said that he took no satisfaction from seeing Germany crash out of the World Cup on Wednesday, as his side surged through top of group F in a thrilling and nail-biting finale.

After the match, a delighted Andersson said: "We worked as a team".

Ludwig Augustinsson fired Sweden ahead five minutes after the break when a Viktor Claesson mis-hit inadvertently found him free at the far post, before Andreas Granqvist smashed in a penalty 12 minutes later following a Hector Moreno trip on Marcus Berg.

Argentine referee Nestor Pitana was alerted to a possible handball by Javier Hernandez, the Mexico forward appearing to use his arm to control the ball, but after consulting the pitch-side monitor, he decided it was not a penalty.

Mexico's Edson Alvarez had an own goal in the 74th minute.

As Sweden's lead grew, Mexican fans paid more attention to the other game, rooting against Germany, which could have passed Mexico with a victory depending on tiebreakers. After South Korea's first goal, they let up a loud cheer and tossed drinks in the air as their chances of advancing improved.

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However, they have lost their last three games in the World Cup knockout stages (1 goal scored, 5 conceded). They have not faced each other since July 1972, when they drew 1-1 at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium.

This was the first time in Colombian Osario's 51 matches in charge of Mexico that he made no changes from their previous match.

With Mexico falling 3-0 behind to Sweden in Ekaterinburg it was left with no choice but to hope that the Germans failed to win their game against South Korea, being played simultaneously in Kazan.

They found it far more hard against Sweden, who threw everything towards claiming the win.

Sweden's cruel last-minute defeat by Germany in the second round of matches looked to have severely diminished their chances of reaching the knockout stage.

"We allowed them to score three goals, which is too many".

But how emphatically they put that result behind them.

Fortune smiled on them but Osorio's many critics, who went quiet after Mexico's first two games in Russian Federation, may now be back on his case.

Before Toni Kroos' 95th-minute goal, they had performed much in the same way as they did here.

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