England came from a goal behind to win a thrilling encounter and ensure Sweden’s group-stage exit from Euro 2012.
In their changed navy blue strip, Roy Hodgson’s men took the lead mid-way through the opening period when Andy Carroll rose tallest to power in an expertly-delivered cross from his Liverpool teammate, Steven Gerrard.
Sweden, who had to take at least a point to prolong their Poland-Ukraine summer, drew level in rather fortuitous circumstances. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s extravagant scissors-kick effort fell kindly for Olof Melberg who forced an own goal from England full-back, Glen Johnson four minutes after the restart.
The ex-Aston Villa defender sent the majority Swedish crowd into raptures just before the hour mark as he capitalised on disastrous defending, heading in, unmarked, from seven yards out.
English parity arrived through substitute Theo Walcott – his 25-yard deflected drive enough to bypass, Swedish goalkeeper, Andreas Isaksson. An injection of urgency from the Three Lions paid dividends on 78 minutes – Arsenal’s rapid forward drove between two Swedish defenders and found Danny Welbeck who dispatched a sublime back-heel to put England back in the driving seat.
Hodgson’s team might have added to the scoreline late-on but did take the victory and now need a draw from the final group game to book their place in the quarter final.
Johnson – Terry – Lescott – Cole
Milner – Gerrard – Parker – Young
Welbeck – Carroll
1 Joe Hart
Was unlucky with the Swedish equaliser – his palmed clearance, from Melberg’s effort, flew into Glen Johnson’s midriff and in the back of the net. Inexcusable marking from defenders left the shot-stopper powerless to prevent the second goal. Solid performance from the ‘keeper – he got down well to hold on to speculative efforts and provided smart interventions from wide deliveries.
2 Glen Johnson
Unfortunate with the own goal and would have hooked the ball clear but for the post. Managed to venture down the right flank into attacking positions where he delivered a sixpence for John Terry. Executed a perfectly-timed tackle on Johan Elmander when the striker appeared to be clear. Looked comfortable defensively with Milner in front of him; less so with Walcott. Lacked concentration in possession and, as a result, distributed the ball with mixed success.
6 John Terry
Encountered some interesting battles with the strength and pace of Ibrahimovic and was hit and miss against the tall striker. As the defensive leader, the centre-back would have been concerned his unit’s organisation which gifted Sweden a second goal. Offensively, had a point-blank header instinctively blocked by Isaksson when England trailed.
15 Joleon Lescott
Like Terry, struggled with Ibrahimovic and did not know whether to push forward or drop deep to combat the AC Milan superstar. Limited the Swedish front-line to very little in the first half but communication needs to improve across the back four when defending as a collaborative item.
3 Ashley Cole
16 James Milner
Similar to the French fixture, the Manchester City midfielder provided a rigid, defensive, screen in front for teammate, Johnson. Tireless effort both in attack and defence but for an hour’s work, his highlight was a solitary dangerous cross for Welbeck to glance wide. Needs to improve his quality and involvement when England are going forward. Was also booked for a lunge.
4 Steven Gerrard
England’s captain delivered a stunning cross from deep – which rivalled that of his against France – to assist Liverpool colleague, Carroll, with the opener. The skipper could have buried an injury-time opportunity but his left-footed volley was kept out, expertly, by Isaksson. Looked to dictate England attacks from the middle and used possession better than he managed against the French.
17 Scott Parker
Would have scored a terrific goal, from distance, had it not have been for an excellent stop by the Swedish no. 1. As expected, offered bags of energy and won his team several free-kick opportunities but might have dropped deeper at times to prevent the dangerous Ibrahimovic from getting at the back four. Proficient use of possession and tried to build attacks from deep in his own half.
11 Ashley Young
The Manchester United forward really struggled to make an impact on the game, perhaps because of to his role out on the left-wing. Decided to venture infield to get the ball which, ultimately, left England’s shape lopsided. Frustrating and careless use of possession towards the later stages of the game which, luckily, did not cost his team.
22 Daniel Welbeck
England’s young forward put on another impressive performance and marked his second-consecutive Euro 2012 start with an outrageous back-heeled winner. Like the previous fixture, the 21-year-old’s touch was exceptional and his partnership with Andy Carroll would have pleased his manager – given the lack of competitive fixtures the two have played together.
9 Andy Carroll
The big no. 9 repaid his manager’s faith with a very well taken goal – his movement, positioning and finish were textbook as the towering Geordie powered home a trademark header. The Liverpool forward’s control looked assured and confident as he linked-up with Welbeck nicely. Gave away the free-kick which led to the Swedish equaliser with a forward’s tackle – but won some important defensive headers stemming from oppositional set-pieces.
60: Walcott on for Milner
89: Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Welbeck
7 Theo Walcott
Introduced on the hour and brought instant impact. The Arsenal attacker’s second touch drew England level; a rasping shot from outside the box which took a slight deflection past Isaksson. Then, a swift, incisive run made the winner for Welbeck. Walcott’s blistering pace drove him between two defenders, to the byline, where the substitute delivered the opportunity for his teammate. Broke away in injury time to provide Gerrard with a telling cross but the Liverpool captain had his volley saved.
20 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Replaced Welbeck in the dying embers of the game but still managed to display the desire to get into a goal-scoring position, as he found himself waiting to pounce had Steven Gerrard not pulled the trigger on his volley attempt.
The Three Lions’ tournament aspirations appeared to be faltering after going behind to a set-piece goal but the England manager deserves credit for his game-changing introduction of Theo Walcott on the hour mark. The 64-year-old opted for James Milner on the right-hand side but the Manchester City midfielder, unfortunately, had little influence on the game. Hodgson saw his team lose the lead, then fall behind and had to react with positivity. Walcott’s performance from the bench and the promising partnership of Welbeck and Carroll give the England manager a selection headache for the match against the Ukraine – especially with the return of Wayne Rooney who is highly-expected to start.
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