Sweden edge towards last 16 after defeating Slovakia

·17-min read
Emil Forsberg scores a penalty during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group E football match between Sweden and Slovakia at Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 18, 2021. - GETTY IMAGES
Emil Forsberg scores a penalty during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group E football match between Sweden and Slovakia at Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 18, 2021. - GETTY IMAGES

Emil Forsberg scored Sweden's first goal of the Euro 2020 from the penalty spot as they edged out Slovakia 1-0 to boost their qualification hopes from Group E on Friday.

In a game which was short of clear-cut chances, Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka conceded a penalty in the second half when he tripped up Robin Quaison and RB Leipzig winger Forsberg made no mistake in beating him from the spot.

Sweden top the group with four points from two games, one ahead of Slovakia. Spain (one point) play bottom side Poland on Saturday while the final round of fixtures - Sweden vs Poland and Slovakia vs Spain - will be played on Wednesday.

Both teams threatened to score from set pieces early in the first half but Slovakia's Juraj Kucka and Sweden's Mikael Lustig saw their headers sail over the bar.

Sweden were compact at the back, as they were against Spain in their goalless opener, and it was centre back Victor Lindelof who was initiating their attacks with his distribution from a high defensive line, which was at times camped in Slovakia's half.

Slovakia switched to a five-man defence when they were out of possession, frustrating the Swedes who were unable to string passes in the final third while Slovakia's defence easily won the aerial duels.

Slovakia eventually made inroads into the final third towards the end of the first half as Sweden retreated but they lacked the creativity to make the final pass count and the first 45 minutes ended with neither goalkeeper tested.

Sweden started the second half on the front foot, with Alexander Isak and Forsberg having shots blocked in the first two minutes.

Alexander Isak of Sweden is challenged by Lubomir Satka of Slovakia during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group E match between Sweden and Slovakia at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 18, 2021 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. - GETTY IMAGES
Alexander Isak of Sweden is challenged by Lubomir Satka of Slovakia during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group E match between Sweden and Slovakia at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 18, 2021 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. - GETTY IMAGES

At the other end, Ondrej Duda found space to pull the trigger at the edge of the box but saw his shot fly inches over the crossbar.

Sweden's Ludwig Augustinsson brought the crowd to life at the hour mark when he directed a powerful header on target but he was denied by a fine reflex save from Dubravka, who tipped it over the bar.

Isak turned things up a notch, leaping high to win a header which drifted agonisingly over before his nifty footwork allowed him to make solo run from his own half past three defenders to curl an effort that was parried away by Dubravka.

The 21-year-old Isak then turned provider which proved fruitful when he released substitute Quaison, who drew a foul from Dubravka in the box and Forsberg stepped up to convert the penalty and seal the three points.


03:20 PM

That's all from me today...

But join Luke Slater for build-up to Croatia-Czech Republic here

03:03 PM

It was not the most positive performance from Slovakia today

Slovakia failed to record a shot on target in this game, just the second time a team have failed to do so at EURO 2020 so far (also Turkey against Italy). It was the first time in their 10 games at major tournaments (World Cup & Euros) that they’ve failed to record at least one in a match.

02:58 PM

Second half specialists

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02:55 PM

This result piles pressure onto Spain

They cannot afford to lose to Poland in their next game!

02:52 PM

Sweden are in a fantastic position to qualify for the last 16 now!

They have four points from two games and that should be enough to see them through in this extended format.

02:51 PM

FULL TIME: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Kucka fires a long range shot at goal but it goes just over the bar! That should be that. And it is!

02:49 PM

90+4 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Slovakia come again, winning another corner. This might be Slovakia's last chance! Dubravka is up in the box but the corner is headed away.

02:47 PM

90+2 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Sweden take the ball into the corner, running down the clock. Slovakia win it back and launch the ball up field. They win a corner after some overcautious defending from Bengtsson.

Kucka charges towards the resulting ball into the box but he gives away a foul in the process.

02:45 PM

90 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

There will be five minutes of added time.

02:44 PM

89 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Quaison, who has been lively since coming on, beats a defender before spraying a pass to Isak. The striker cannot quite bring the ball under control, however.

02:42 PM

87 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

The corner falls to the ground and is eventually cleared after some scrappy play. Sweden try to counter but Weiss commits a professional foul to halt the attack.

02:41 PM

86 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Augustinsson whips a low cross into the box but there are no Swedish players in the box to meet it.

At the other end, Koscelnik wins his side a corner. Can Slovakia force an equaliser?

02:39 PM

84 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Weiss makes an intelligent run in behind but is just caught offside. Sweden have dropped a lot men behind the ball at this point.

02:37 PM

82 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Sweden should score a second! Slovakia press on and lose the ball. Isak breaks forward, he should roll in Quaison but instead goes for goal. His shot is blocked behind for a corner which is hoofed clear.

02:34 PM

79 min: Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Sweden have been the better side today and do deserve to lead. Can Slovakia pull anything out of the bag in the final 10 minutes?

02:32 PM

GOOOOOAAAAAAAL! Forsberg Sweden 1 Slovakia 0

Forsberg steps up and rolls the ball into the bottom right corner. Crisp penalty.

02:31 PM


Dubravka takes down Quaison as he breaks into the box. A clear penalty. The keeper is booked.

02:28 PM

73 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Both sides still seem content with the draw at this stage. It has remained cagey.

02:27 PM

70 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Hamsik rolls the ball into the feet of Duda who his dispossessed on the edge of the box. Sweden then counter via Isak. He beats three defenders and then curls a shot from the edge of the box. Dubravka keeps it out.

Great play from the striker.

02:22 PM

67 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Chance for Isak goes begging! The striker is picked out in the box but he can only direct his header over the bar!

02:20 PM

65 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Changes for Sweden; Claesson on for Olsson, Quaison on for Berg. One for Slovakia; Haraslin on for Pekarik.

02:18 PM

63 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Isak drives a shot towards goal from long range. His effort is deflected behind for a corner, but once again it is cleared.

02:15 PM

60 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Another superb save, this time at the other end! Larsson dinks the ball to the back post and Augustinsson drives a header towards the back of the net only for Dubravka to tip it over the bar! Superb work from the Newcastle keeper.

02:14 PM

58 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Lustig fouls Mak in the Swedish half. Hamsik lofts a cross into the box and Kucka has a free header. He powers it towards goal from close range, forcing Olsen to make a stunning save! The Slovak was offside, in the end - not that Olsen knew that!

02:12 PM

56 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Forsberg tries to manufacture an attack, driving forward but he cannot execute the one-two.

02:11 PM

55 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Ekdal catches Duda with a clumsy tackle. Just a free kick.

02:08 PM

52 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Isak releases Augustinsson down the left. He crosses to the near post but there is no one in yellow trying to latch onto it! Slovakia had five men in the box, Sweden just the two.

02:05 PM

50 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Slovakia mount their first attack of the half, winning a corner of their own. The initial ball is headed way but it falls to Duda. He releases a powerful effort from the edge of the box but it flies just over the bar.

02:02 PM

47 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Early chance for Sweden! The balls falls to Isak in the box. He hammers a shot towards goal but a diving block deflects it behind for a corner.

The resulting ball into the box leads to nothing. Still, a livelier start from Sweden.

02:00 PM

The second half is underway!

Sweden get the game restarted.

01:59 PM

This might explain the lack of energy...

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01:49 PM

That was an odd first half

Slovakia look content with a draw - understandable with the win they secured against Poland. Sweden, however, should be going for all three points but they are lacking intent. The Swedes need to find some energy and a cutting edge from somewhere.

01:45 PM

HALF TIME: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Hubocan slides Hamsik into the left hand side of the box. He hits a cross first time but the ball is cleared by a yellow shirt.

That's the half - no stoppage time required!

01:43 PM

43 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

This match started with a lot of promise but the tempo has dropped right down. There is a lack of quality in the final third for both sides at the moment.

Duda rolls the ball to Hamsik on the edge of the box who curls an effort over the bar.

01:39 PM

40 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

A low cross finds Duda in the box who attempts a flick on with his heel. The ball trickles into the grateful arms of Olsen, however.

01:38 PM

38 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

It has been a better spell for Slovakia over the past few minutes. Mak is getting into the game and wins his side a corner with some sharp footwork.

Hamsik's corner finds a team-mate but the header back across goal is cleared away.

01:36 PM

36 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

The ball falls to Hamsik on the edge of the six-yard box but the Slovakian captain cannot bring the ball under control. Goal kick.

01:33 PM

33 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Sweden continue to pepper the Slovakian box with crosses but, so far, they are up to the task. The Swedes are just lacking some quality in the final third at the moment.

01:31 PM

31 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Slovakia finally break out of their half after Duda makes a smart run in behind. He volleys a cross into the box with venom but Ekdal manages to clear it long.

01:28 PM

28 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Sweden are now well on top in this match. Slovakia are struggling to break out of their half, sitting deep.

Augustinsson puts a dangerous cross into the box, Berg volleys it high into the sky, then beating Dubravka to the ball as it descended near the goal. Slovakia then hoof the ball away.

01:25 PM

25 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Slovakia attempt to break away and Olsson hacks down Kucka. Yellow card rightly awarded.

01:22 PM

22 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Sweden force a corner after a sustained period of pressure. The ball is not dealt with initially but is then hacked away. A free kick is conceded by Isak as he tried to stop the clearance.

01:19 PM

19 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Lindelof picks off a loose pass and charges forward up the pitch before being tackled by Hamsik. The Manchester United defender is furious a foul was not given as Hamsik tugged on his shirt.

01:16 PM

16 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

A poor back pass puts Olsen under pressure. Hamsik presses the keeper who does well to get the ball away just in time.

It really has been an open game so far, both attacks finding space in behind.

01:14 PM

14 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Hubocan commits a silly foul in a dangerous place for a cross into the box. Larsson stands over the ball which is not too far away from the corner flag. As expected, a delightful ball is whipped in but Lustig cannot do anything with it.

01:11 PM

11 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

A low cross is driven into the Sweden box but Olsen dives on it before it can cause any trouble.

01:09 PM

9 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Isak finds a pocket of space in the box, winning a corner. The ball in is well claimed by Dubravka who initiates another Slovakia attack.

It has been end to end thus far!

01:05 PM

6 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Kucka wins the header from the corner but cannot direct the ball on target. Lively start from both sides so far.

01:04 PM

4 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Sweden have an attack of their own which ends in a deflected shot being saved unconvincingly by Dubravka.

Slovakia counter, Hamsik crossing into a dangerous area. Lindelof deflects the ball behind for a corner.

01:03 PM

2 min: Sweden 0 Slovakia 0

Slovakia start brightly, spreading the ball around the back before mounting an attack down the right. A cross is sent in towards Duda but the forward is offside.

01:00 PM

Here we go!

Slovakia get us underway.

12:55 PM

The players are out onto the pitch!

The stadium is partially full as the national anthems get underway.

12:54 PM

A reminder that a win for Slovakia will see them through to the next round!

Sweden are in the hunt too after that draw against Spain.

12:51 PM

It is going to be a hot one for the players today!

In Saint Petersburg it is 28 degrees and the sun is shining!

12:44 PM

Sweden have tended to struggle in the second match of major tournaments...

Sweden have lost their second group stage match at each of their last four major tournaments – versus Spain at EURO 2008, England at EURO 2012, Italy at EURO 2016 and Germany at the 2018 World Cup.

12:33 PM

The Sweden fans are out in force in Saint Petersburg

Sweden fans. - REUTERS
Sweden fans. - REUTERS
Sweden fans.
Sweden fans.

12:23 PM

Not a stat for the Slovakia fans out there...

Slovakia have never beaten Sweden in their five previous encounters (D3 L2), with their last four games never producing more than two goals

12:13 PM

There is some welcome team news for Sweden

Dejan Kulusevski is among Sweden's substitutes for the match against Slovakia after completing his isolation period following a positive test for the coronavirus.

The Juventus winger tested positive for COVID-19 three days before the start of the tournament and missed Sweden's 0-0 draw against Spain on Monday.

Mattias Svanberg was another Sweden player to get the virus ahead of Euro 2020. The midfielder is not ready to play against Slovakia in St. Petersburg.

Slovakia defender Denis Vavro will miss the game after testing positive for the virus after checks on Wednesday.

12:03 PM

Sweden have struggled to score goals at the Euros in recent times

Sweden have failed to score in three consecutive matches at the Euros – their final two group games in 2016 and their opening match against Spain last time out. They had only failed to score three times in their previous 18 games at the tournament before this run.

Can they find the net today?

11:53 AM

And here is the Slovakia line-up!

Dubravka, Pekarik, Satka, Skriniar, Hubocan, Kucka, Hrosovsky, Koscelnik, Hamsik, Mak, Duda.

Subs: Valjent, Gregus, Weiss, Bozenik, Benes, Kuciak, Hancko, Haraslin, Duris, Lobotka, Rodak, Hromada.

11:47 AM

The Sweden team news is in!

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11:46 AM

Both these sides have started Euro 2020 well

Sweden took a point off Spain in their first match of the tournament while Slovakia surprisingly defeated Poland to take them top of Group E.

Both results were upsets of sorts and now Slovakia are a win away from qualification for the next round.

It is all to play for in Saint Petersburg this afternoon,

11:34 AM

A historic first...

This will be the first meeting between Sweden and Slovakia at a major tournament (European Championship + World Cup).

11:23 AM

Good afternoon, Sweden's tactics were criticised in their draw with Spain

Sweden came in for plenty of criticism for their defensive tactics in their scoreless draw with Spain, but captain Sebastian Larsson is not bothered as they prepare to face Slovakia in their next Euro 2020 Group E game today.

The Swedes smothered the Spaniards and took off striker Alexander Isak midway through the second half as they orchestrated a shut-out they believe sets them up to reach the knockout stages.

"We are very secure in ourselves ... people will always have opinions, criticism or not, somewhere our basic feeling is that we took a point from Spain away in our Euro opener, which as a result is good for us and gives us opportunities," Larsson told reporters on Thursday.

A repeat of their park-the-bus tactics is unlikely against Slovakia.

"They (Slovakia) played in a clear way in a number of games now, our analysis is that it's not a Spain type of game that we'll meet, it'll be a different type of game," Sweden coach Janne Andersson said.

"We expect to have a little more ball in the build-up phase and we'll have to drive the match forward more. They sit quite deep and they are very good in their counter-attacking phase ... I believe they'll back home a bit, but you can never know for sure," he added.

Winger Dejan Kulusevski has returned to the squad following a positive COVID-19 test but may not feature against the Slovaks.

"Dejan is in a stepping-up phase and we'll see what the doctors say. He's not being considered to start, but it might possible for him to come on ... I hope and believe he'll be available, but we'll have to wait and see," Andersson said.

Sweden midfielder Matthias Svanberg is still isolating following a positive test.

Slovakia top Group E after their 2-1 win over Poland. Spain and Sweden are two points behind with the Poles bottom ahead of the second round of games.


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