Nations League: Sweden pip Russia to earn promotion into top-tier; Portugal held
Victor Lindelof and Marcus Berg were on target as Sweden pipped Russia to secure promotion from Nations League Group B with a 2-0 victory at Stockholm on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Portugal, who has already advanced into the Nation’s League semi-finals, were held to a 1-1 draw by Poland in their final Group A3 encounter. Poland has already been relegated to the second tier after failing to win a single match.
The defending Euro champions had finished unbeaten and three points clear of Italy to top their group even without talisman and captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Meanwhile, Sweden qualified on a better head-to-head record over Russia despite finishing on same points (7) as their opponents – Sweden had held Russia to a goalless draw away from home, before beating them 2-0 in Stockholm. The third team Turkey were relegated to League C.
Manchester United defender Lindelof, named Sweden’s best player at the annual football awards last week, banged home a loose ball from a Mikael Lustig’s corner to put his side ahead in the 41st minute.
Berg then completed the victory with a simple tap-in in the 72nd minute after Sebastian Larsson’s shot was saved by Russia goalkeeper Andrey Lunev. The 32-year-old was heavily criticised for his woeful finish during Sweden’s sensational run to the World Cup quarterfinals where they lost to England but against Russia Berg put up a great display to guide his side into the first tier of Nations League.
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Russia on the other looked clueless in attack as their forwards – which had enjoyed a great run during their remarkable run to the World Cup quarterfinals – failed to show the kind of ruthlessness that was expected of them. Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen was little disturbed during the vital encounter as his side registered an important victory.
Portugal were bright right from the start with youngster Renato Sanches having an early effort blocked before assisting Andre Silva for the opening goal in the 34th minute.
Fernando Santos’ young wards were enjoying a comfortable outing before Danilo Pereira was shown a controversial straight red and Poland were awarded a penalty for a tackle on Arkadiusz Milik inside the box.
The Napoli striker then slotted the ball home past Beto to level the scores for his side. Despite the victory, Poland has been relegated to League C.