FIFA World Cup: 3 things Sweden did right in 1-0 win over South Korea
Sweden's first World Cup game in 12 years was far from perfect, but it ended with a victory and nothing else matters. South Korea managed to keep the Blagult at arm's length for large spells of the game despite being thrown the kitchen sink, thanks to some prolific goalkeeping and vigilante defending.
Unlike what we witnessed during the qualifiers, Sweden's attack today lacked the the flair with which they cut a swathe through the defenses in those games. But they did mount a sustained pressure for the better part of the match and Korea succumbed at one point, resulting in a penalty that skipper Andreas Granqvist coolly dispatched.
Three points in the bag and a massive step in the direction of last 16. Here's what Sweden did right in Novgorod today:
#1 Pushing Korea on the edge with sustained pressure
After a relatively slow start, Sweden gained momentum going forward, but Korea was proving to be a tough nut to crack. Backed by the undaunted Cho Hyun-woo between the sticks, the Taegeuk Warriors braved wave after wave of attack. But Sweden knew they'd crack after a certain point.
And that's exactly what happened when they tried to up the ante. Korea grew desperate and Victor Claesson drew a foul out of Kim Min-Woo inside the area resulting in a penalty, after the VAR intervention, of course. Granqvist stepped up and nonchalantly slotted a low drive, sending Hyun-woo the wrong way.
Sweden's sustained pressure bore dividends, even though not directly. But they wouldn't care as they got the job done eventually. The likes of Mexico and Germany, despite the defeat, are unlikely to wilt like this, and there Sweden would have to have the cutting edge to convert pressure into chances and chances into goals.