Andreas Granqvist’s penalty set the ball rolling for Sweden’s World Cup campaign as they overcame South Korea 1-0 in Group F.
The result means that the Koreans face an uphill struggle to get to the knockout stages, with a hungry Mexico side up next for the Asians before a match up against World Cup holders Germany.
It was a cagey opening but Sweden eventually started to create chances. Granqvist played a one-two with Marcus Berg but was stopped by an excellent last ditch tackle from Kim Young-gwon. Then goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo stuck a leg out to deny the aforementioned Berg from point blank before recovering to punch the danger away.
Sweden were the front foot but just couldn’t get through an organised Korea back line. Berg took the ball on his chest but his shot was across goal rather than at it.
There was a moment where Son Heung-min isolated the slower Granqvist, but overall Sweden dealt very well with South Korea’s attacks.
Emil Forsberg is hot property right now after a successful season at RB Leipzig, and he came close; cutting inside before blazing his effort over.
However, 6 minutes into the second half Korea had their best chance of the game, unfortunately for them Koo Ja-cheol couldn’t direct his header on target.
Sweden’s 15 shots to five tells you all you need to know about the game. The “blue-yellows” nearly opened the scoring when Sebastian Larsson’s whipped free-kick was headed straight at Cho by Ola Toivonen.
But after 65 minutes the Swedish goal did eventually come. Jang Hyun-soo carelessly gave the ball away to Forsberg, Cho’s punch from a resulting cross was weak then Kim Min-woo recklessly dived in on Viktor Claesson. Granqvist sent Cho the wrong way from the spot following Joel Aguilar’s descision to look at VAR.
In fairness to South Korea, they did push for the equaliser late on, especially when Lee Seung-woo came on for the isolated Kim Shin-wook. The problem was Karl Johan-Johnsson wasn’t tested.
This was partly down to their reluctance to cross the ball, although when they did on one occasion, Lee Jae-Sung nodded across to Hwang Hee-Chan who couldn’t get his header on target.
As mentioned before, it’ll be a struggle for South Korea to get out of Group F now. Will Shin Tae-yong regret not taking Lee Chung-yong or Ji Dong-won? On the other hand, Sweden have a chance to knock Germany out of the World Cup in their next game.