Emil Forsberg’s second-half penalty secured Sweden a huge step towards qualifying for the 16th final of Euro 2020 with a win against Slovakia in St. Petersburg.
Forsberg of RB Leipzig scored in the remaining 13 minutes after Robin Quaison’s substitution was knocked down by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
The spot-kick ended a 365-minute goalless streak for Sweden at the European Championships, since the group’s opening match at Euro 2016.
Although Slovakia was able to secure its progress in the knockout phase with a victory, Sweden now leads Group E with four points – one more than Slovakia, which faces Spain in the final match.
In the first meeting of the parties in the big tournament, in the uninspiring first half, there were five attempts to score, and the repulsed effort of the Swedish captain Sebastian Larsson outside the penalty area was the only one to score.
However, Janne Andersson came to the rescue after a long pass, when Dubravka defended the ball perfectly so as not to score with Ludwig Augustinsson’s header before Marcus Danielson sent a shot from the resulting corner.
It took Sweden just 25 minutes to record more passes than their full-back opener against Spain, where they endured a point, despite having only 15% possession and one shot on goal.
Impressive in that match, 21-year-old Alexander Isak – the young La Liga player of the year after scoring 17 goals in 34 games last season – was initially a hungry opportunity.
But he acted while Sweden confirmed itself in the second half, when Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar performed an excellent sliding shot to block Isaac’s shot soon after the restart.
Real Sociedad striker Isak, who at the age of 17 became the youngest scorer of his nation with a goal against Slovakia in a friendly match in 2017, forced Dubravka into action after a wonderful ride.
It was one of six dribbles he completed in the game – the most of the players at Euro 2020 so far – and suitably Isak was the one to throw the ball into Quaison as he won the decisive spot-kick.
The defeat ended a series of six victories for Slovakia, which will be vigilantly watching, while Spain play against Poland in the second Group E match on Saturday (20:00 BST).
The last round of Group E matches will take place on Wednesday at 17:00, when Slovakia will face Spain and Sweden against Poland.
- 6AugustinssonReplaced byBengtssonu 88 ‘minutes
- 20OlssonBooked in 23 minutesReplaced byClaessonu 64 ‘minutes
- 8EkdalReplaced bySvenssonu 88 ‘minutes
- 10ForsbergReplaced byKrafthu 90 + 3 ‘minutes
- 9BergReplaced byQuaisonu 64 ‘minutes
- 1DubravkaBooked for 76 minutes
- 2BakerReplaced byHaraslinu 64 ‘minutes
- 15HubocanReplaced byHanckou 85 ‘minutes
- 13HrosovskyReplaced byDurisu 84 ‘minutes
- 17HamsikReplaced byGoodsu 77 ‘minutes
- 20MakReplaced byWhiteu 76 ‘minutesBooked for 87 minutes
- 8DoubtBooked for 80 minutes
- 23A native
- 25A bunch
- Daniel Siebert
- 11,525 th most common
Match ends, Sweden 1, Slovakia 0.
End of the second half, Sweden 1, Slovakia 0.
Attempted miss Juraj Kucka (Slovakia) shot of the right foot outside the penalty area is too high.
Attempt blocked. Vladimír Weiss (Slovakia) has a shot blocked. Assisted by Lukás Haraslín.
Martin Koscelnik (Slovakia) tries to head the ball from the middle of the area, but it goes wide. László Bénes was the scorer.
Corner, Hotel Slovakia. Submitted by Carl Mikael Lustig.
Attempt blocked. David Hancko (Slovakia) shot from the left foot from the left side of the penalty area.
Replacement, Sweden. Emil Krafth replaces Emil Forsberg.
Juraj Kucke (Slovakia) fouls.
Victor Lindelöf (Sweden) takes the free-kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Hotel Slovakia. Courtesy of Pierre Bengtsson.
Lukás Haraslín (Slovakia) takes the free-kick in the defensive half.
Pierre Bengtsson (Sweden).
Juraj Kucka (Slovakia) takes the free-kick in the defensive half.
Misdemeanor by Emil Forsberg (Sweden).
Replacement, Sweden. Pierre Bengtsson replaced Ludwig Augustinsson.
Replacement, Sweden. Gustav Svensson replaces Albina Ekdala.
Vladimír Weiss (Slovakia) has been booked and must now be careful not to get a second yellow card.
Foul by Vladimir Weiss (Slovakia).
Viktor Claesson (Sweden) takes the free-kick in the defensive half.