Friday 20 July 2018

Sweden get the benefit of VAR as Andreas Granqvist blasts home to seal opening win

Sweden 1 South Korea 0

Sweden's Ludwig Augustinsson shakes hands with Oscar Hiljemark
Sweden's Ludwig Augustinsson shakes hands with Oscar Hiljemark

Andy Hampson

Andreas Granqvist took advantage of a VAR-awarded penalty to hand Sweden a 1-0 win over South Korea in their World Cup opener.

The Sweden captain tucked home in the 65th minute of the Group F clash in Nizhny Novgorod after technology was used to rule that Viktor Claesson had been fouled in the area.

It was a deserved victory for Sweden, who created the better chances throughout and Marcus Berg spurned a couple of good openings.

The Swedes had been accused of spying on a Korea training session in the build-up to the game but they began with an apparent determination to put their own shortcomings in front of goal right.

Sweden had not scored in three outings prior to the tournament but they showed the greater attacking intent in the first half.

Granqvist, without defensive colleague Victor Lindelof of Manchester United due to illness, had an early opportunity after breaking from deep. He combined well with Berg, who returned his pass with a neat backheel, but Kim Young-gwon produced a fine tackle to frustrate him.

Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo then justified his unexpected selection, having been regarded as coach Shin Tae-yong's third choice, by producing a fine point-black save to deny Berg. Ola Toivonen headed wide from the resulting corner.

Korea suffered a blow when left-back Park Joo-ho was forced off midway through the first half with a hamstring injury and Sweden threatened again moments later through Berg, but again Young-gwon got in the way.

Tottenham's Son Heung-min created a rare Korea opportunity as he broke away from Granqvist but he was unable to pick out a colleague in the box.

Berg had another chance before the break as he controlled a long ball on his chest and took it away from the keeper but he could only lob across goal.

Mikael Lustig picked out Claesson with an inviting cross on the stroke of half-time but his header was deflected wide.

Korea began the second half more positively with Koo Ja-cheol heading narrowly wide but Sweden soon regained control and Jo again did well to keep out a header from Toivonen.

The breakthrough came after 65 minutes as Sweden were awarded a penalty after video review. Referee Joel Aguilar initially allowed play to go on after Claesson was hacked down by Lee Jae-sung but called a halt moments later, as Korea launched a counter-attack, after a word in his ear.

Granqvist took responsibility and sent Jo the wrong way.

That proved the telling blow and Sweden were largely untroubled as they saw out victory.

Korea might have snatched an equaliser in stoppage time but Hwang Hee-chan was unable to keep his header on target.

Press Association

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