Thursday 19 July 2018

Andersson's Swede delight but Mexico miss golden chance

Sweden 3 Mexico 0

Sweden manager Janne Andersson. Photo: Getty Images
Sweden manager Janne Andersson. Photo: Getty Images

Kyle Hightower

Sweden were so dominant at the Ekaterinburg Arena that Mexican fans gave up on their own team and threw their voices behind the South Koreans 600 miles away.

The Swedes cruised to victory and were never challenged in the second half and overtook Mexico to win and face Switzerland in the last 16 for their first appearance in the knockout stage since 2006.

Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is beaten from the penalty spot. Photo: Getty Images
Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is beaten from the penalty spot. Photo: Getty Images

This will be the seventh consecutive time that Mexico have progressed from the group stages, however, they may never get a better chance to top a group then they had yesterday.

Relief was the dominant emotion as South Korea's victory meant Mexico still progressed but, in the cold light of day, when they have a clash against Brazil to look forward to next Monday, the loss of such a golden opportunity may be regretted.

The fans desperate for a first quarter-final appearance in 32 years - the elusive "quinto partido", or fifth game - will certainly not be happy just if things go awry against Brazil.

Sweden didn't want to focus on getting revenge by helping eliminate Germany but it was on their mind.

Mexico's Carlos Salcedo heads the ball. Photo: Getty Images
Mexico's Carlos Salcedo heads the ball. Photo: Getty Images

"We grew another little bit," Sweden coach Janne Andersson said. "I am not going to sit here and gloat having won a match or boast about a win. We don't want to stir things up too much."

Converted

Ludwig Augustinsson volleyed a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa from close range five minutes into the second half, and captain Andreas Granqvist converted a penalty to help Sweden take control.

Mexico's Edson Alvarez had an own goal in the 74th minute to put the game out of reach at 3-0.

Mexico's Javier Hernandez strikes a shot. Photo: Getty Images
Mexico's Javier Hernandez strikes a shot. Photo: Getty Images

It capped an emotional week for the Swedes. The team made a statement on Sunday defending team-mate Jimmy Durmaz from criticism and racist attacks after his late foul led to a free-kick that won the game for Germany.

"A few days ago we lost in the last minute and we were very disappointed, and now we come back and beat Mexico," Augustinsson said. "I think we deserved to win the group, and Mexico deserved to be second."

As Sweden's lead grew, Mexican fans paid more attention to the other game, frantically checking their phones for scoring updates from Germany's game.

After South Korea's first goal, they let up a loud cheer as their chances of advancing improved, with a second Korean goal bringing even louder cheers.

Sweden's Emil Forsberg challenges Mexico's Jesus Corona. Photo: Getty Images
Sweden's Emil Forsberg challenges Mexico's Jesus Corona. Photo: Getty Images

"We have to say we qualified because we beat Germany and Korea. However and nevertheless, I am very hurt," said coach Juan Carlos Osorio.

That hurt will only increase if they fail against Brazil.

Irish Independent

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