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World Cup 2018: Sweden defeat South Korea 1-0; end goal drought


Sweden’s long wait for a goal after going without scoring for 402 minutes finally came to an end, when Andreas Granqvist send goalkeeper H. Cho the wrong way, to get their Group F campaign up and running, with a comfortable 1-0 victory over South Korea on Monday.

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“The Blue-Yellow” boys had last scored against Chile in March and until the 65th minute looked set for another dull draw. They had created plenty of chances but were wayward with their shots. Then Kim Young-gwon fouled Viktor Claesson in the box as the referee whistled play-on.

But he later reversed his decision after some vociferous protest from the Swedish players, pleading for VAR, which went in their favour. The decision was changed, giving Sweden a penalty and captain Granqvist stepped up to give his side the lead.

Korea on the other, had a lot of expectations shouldered on Son Heung-min and he by far was “Taegeuk’s” best player in the field. No one in ‘whites’ or ‘yellow’ could match his pace and the Tottenham forward often burst through on the flanks but just couldn’t find another teammate.

Sweden were the much better team on display, defensively strong and equally impressive on attacks, exemplifying why they ousted Italy for a World Cup berth. After some opening exchanges, it took them just 14 minutes for their first attack, when a back heel from Claesson found striker Marcus Berg with plenty space, who’s shot was however was saved by Cho.

The Asian team seemed to have no answer for back heels and Berg found Granqvist with another sumptuous one, which the centre-back failed to place on target. Sweden had as many as 10 shots in the opening 45 minutes and could have taken the lead multiple times but the Korean defenders were well up to the task, clearing away opportunities with some fine tackles.

But for all their defensive heroics, Korea lacked the attacking edge, unable to hit a shot on target in 90 minutes. It was the second time this World Cup that a team failed to find the target even once, the other being Saudi Arabia against Russia.

It brought to the fore the attacking vulnerabilities of Asian teams and Korea head coach Shin Tae-Young will have to change his game plans before their next fixture against Mexico on June 23.

Sweden meanwhile kept their unbeaten streak intact against Korea winning thrice and drawing the other two in five matches. The “Blågult” next play Germany who faced an emberassinge loss to Mexico, a day ago.

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