Euro 2016: Late Eder goal gives Italy 1-0 win over Sweden
Italy beat Sweden 1-0 in their UEFA Euro 2016 Group E game on Friday at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse to confirm their place in the Round of 16. A late goal from Eder gave the Azzurri the three points after a frustrating afternoon that saw both sides struggle to create opportunities. The result leaves Sweden needing a win against Belgium to have a chance of qualifying unless results go their way.
Italy: Isaksson; Johansson, Lindelof, Granqvist, Olsson; Larsson, Ekdal, Kallstrom, Forsberg; Guidetti, Ibrahimovic
Sweden: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Florenzi, Candreva, Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini; Eder, Pelle
Antonio Conte made just one change to the starting XI that beat group favourites Belgium 2-0 in the opening game with Matteo Darmian making way for Alessandro Florenzi. On the other hand, Erik Hamren made three changes with Erik Johansson, Albin Ekdal and John Guidetti making their way to the Sweden starting lineup.
Sweden keep Italy quiet in first half
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the last Swedish player to score against Italy in Euro back in 2004 and he almost got on the scoresheet in the second minute of the game. Kim Kallstrom’s teasing cross into the box was attacked by both Ibrahimovic and Giorgio Chiellini and the striker barged into the Italian defender, failing to make contact with the header.
The Italian ‘BBC’ defence of Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini constantly kept an eye on Ibrahimovic and the Swedish striker was struggling to make an impact in the game early on. However, it wasn’t exactly clear cut opportunities for either side in the early stages as neither team looked to make good use of possession and were content with balls lumped forward.
Soon after, Florenzi produced a bit of outrageous skill and created an opportunity out of almost nothing after Candreva’s cross was punched away. The Roma full-back twisted on the spot to beat the defender before Victor Lindelof escorted him away from danger as Sweden heaved a sigh of relief.
With no space to work with due to the Italians sitting deep in their half, Ibrahimovic dropped back a bit to create some space for himself and also run Sweden’s game through him. The Scandinavian side slowly started to dominate possession and always looked to win the ball back from an Italy side short on creativity in midfield.
With Giaccherini struggling to stamp his authority in the game, it was up to Florenzi and Candreva to provide width and spread the game. Candreva did fashion a chance on one occasion with a looping cross into the box that was in a dangerous area but Johansson was on hand to make a fine clearance.
Sweden’s best attacks involved Ibrahimovic – either when he dropped deep to release his teammates or when he tried to get on the end of crosses on set-pieces. But Italy managed to keep him at bay until the half-time whistle.
Italy grow into game in second half and make it count
Chiellini should probably have been booked at the start of the second half for a cynical off-the-ball block on Guidetti. The Celta Vigo striker was looking to make a run past the defensive line when Chiellini, aware of the danger, quickly moved into his path to stop him in his tracks. While it happened right in front of the referee, he did not even whistle for a foul as the Swedish fans protested.
A frustrated Pelle then had half a chance when Parolo set him up for a shot. The Southampton striker’s first touch to set himself up was good but his volleyed shot went over the bar. But the intention from Italy was clear. Take shots on goal and give Isaksson a tough time. Soon the Azzurri were also looking to work their way through the Swedish defence with short corners who had a tough time dealing with them.
Pelle soon made way for Simone Zaza and the Juventus striker almost made a contribution with his first touch of the game. A counter-attack saw Italy in space around the box and Zaza found Parolo who in turn released Giaccherini. The goalscorer from the first game was looking to pull the trigger and was stopped in his tracks by the experienced Kallstrom who had rushed back into the box to make a fine challenge.
Ibrahimovic then looked to have had the best chance of the game when a cross from the left flank was sent to the far post. While Sebastian Larsson was also a target, the Sunderland midfielder failed to reach the cross leaving Ibrahimovic to take a shot but his effort went over the crossbar. To make matters worse, the offside flag had also gone up.
Italy’s finest chance of the game came in the 82nd minute when Giaccherini sent in a cross that sailed over the Swedish defence to find Parolo. The Lazio midfielder headed it goalward with Isaksson beaten but his effort crashed into the crossbar and went out for a goal kick. At the other end, Sweden were simply unable to get shots on target – something they had yet to achieve since the start of the tournament.
However, Italy finally got their breakthrough when Chiellini took a throw-in quickly and found the head of Zaza on the left. Zaza managed to head it into the path of Eder who dribbled along the edge of the box before curling a right-footed shot past Isaksson to find the bottom corner and give Italy the lead.
Three minutes were added on and Italy did their best to ensure Sweden had no opportunities to get a chance on goal, with Gianluigi Buffon also getting a yellow card for time wasting. One final set-piece saw Sweden lose their chance after a melee in the box as the referee blew the final whistle