Andreas Granqvist netted a calm and collective second-half penalty to help Sweden narrowly see off South Korea 1-0 both nations’ 2018 World Cup opener on Monday afternoon.
South Korea provided a strong test throughout the match, but Janne Anderson’s men were sturdy on the day and ultimately claimed a big victory to go joint top of Group F alongside Mexico, after their shock 1-0 win over tournament front-runners Germany on Sunday.
The Asian nation now find themselves in a bit of bother with both Mexico and Germany to play in their remaining two group games, the former next, while Sweden face the latter with the huge chance of knocking the 2014 World champions out of the tournament for good.
Sweden, without Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof in the line-up due to illness, were very much up against it in the early stages of the first-half as South Korea, managed by Shin Tae-Yong, were looking the more likely to score.
Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min was enjoying his role within his country’s team, playing out on the wide, and was able to whip in numerous balls into the box inside the first ten minutes but had little end product within the 18-yard box from his team-mates.
Blågult boss Janne Anderson, who won the Swedish top division in 2015, saw his men slowly stem their way into the fixture as striker Marcus Berg was denied from four yards out by South Korean goalkeeper Cho Hyun-Woo.
Very little occurred during the first-half, however, Sweden were able to progressively grow into the match as they dominated possession up until the half-time whistle.
However, only briefly saw the ball in the South Korea box – Berg predominantly being the major threat for the European nation.
It had appeared that the World Cup may be over for one of South Korea’s players, former Borussia Dortmund left-back Joo-ho Park, who looked to have pulled his hamstring as he leaped for a header to keep the ball in play by the touchline, rolling off the pitch and was forced to leave the field on a stretcher, much to his nation’s dejection.
The very controversial Video Assistant Referee came into play mid-way through the second-half between Sweden and South Korea.
Full-back Kim Min-woo appeared to have brought down Swedish man Viktor Claesson inside the box; the referee took it back to be reviewed and right so awarded a penalty to the European nation.
Despite the likes of RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg on the pitch, as well as former Sunderland and Hull City player Sebastian Larsson, it was veteran defender Andreas Granqvist who stepped up to the plate.
He slotted the ball down the right as the 33-year-old sent Cho Hyun-Woo the wrong way to give Sweden the advantage sixty-five minutes into the game and send the see of yellow fans in the stadium go crazy.
The Sweden captain has now netted his seventh goal for the national team, in what was the ex-Wigan Athletic defender’s 71st cap.
Sweden vs Germany on Saturday will certainly not be one to miss.