Emil Forsberg’s coolly taken penalty clinched Sweden’s victory in a controlled encounter in Group E.
Emil Forsberg became the first Swedish player to score at a EURO since Sebastian Larsson in 2012 as the Blågult unlocked a well-organised Slovakia to gain a firm foothold in Group E and edge closer to the round of 16.
Match in brief
An early attempt by the self-same Larsson had set the tone in Saint Petersburg, where Janne Andersson’s side – unchanged from their impressive defensive display against Spain – kicked off with a sense of freedom against a cautious Slovakia outfit, happy to sit back and try to dictate from deep.
Sweden’s high press produced an early free-kick just outside the Slovakia box; however, Mikael Lustig could only head over Larsson’s whipped delivery.
As Slovakia gradually began to commit men forward, Marcus Danielson was required to shepherd away Marek Hamšík’s dangerous run, before Hamšík also lashed his subsequent opportunity over the crossbar.
Grabbing the bull by the horns, the Blågult started the second half brightly. Ludwig Augustinsson’s glanced effort and Alexander Isak’s drive from distance both elicited top-class Martin Dúbravka saves. But after Robin Quaison had been brought down in the penalty area, Slovakia’s shot-stopper was unable to keep out Emil Forsberg’s 77th-minute spot kick.
Star of the Match: Alexander Isak (Sweden)
“He was always dangerous and a threat behind Slovakia’s defence.”
Mixu Paatelainen, UEFA Technical Observer
Sujay Dutt, Sweden reporter
Sweden had a game plan and they executed it – this time demanding more possession and showing more attacking intent than against Spain. For much of the afternoon, they hovered around the Slovakian goal without really threatening. However, they gradually turned up the pressure – often courtesy of Isak. He didn’t win them the match, but in the end it was a fair result that Sweden did prevail.
Rastislav Hríbik, Slovakia reporter
Despite a great effort and a clever tactical plan, Slovakia were unable to prevent Sweden from taking the three points. The Slovakia defence worked very well, managing to preserve a clean sheet for most of the match. There were some heroic moments from goalkeeper Dúbravka, but in the end Sweden finally found a way through. It’s a first defeat for Štefan Tarkovič’s side, which now leaves them chasing a point against group favourites Spain.
Emil Forsberg, Sweden midfielder, speaking to SVT: “It feels absolutely amazing. I am extremely happy. It’s very nice to win. We only played half a first half but were better in the second. We know we’re mentally strong. It was a fantastic piece of play from Quaison that led to the penalty.”
Janne Andersson, Sweden coach: “It’s good to have four points after two games. We’ve played seven games this year and conceded just one goal. Our attack deserved more today, they were fantastic at times.”
Andersson on Isak: “It’s really good to see him on the pitch; he’s a huge talent. He’s a young player who’s still got a lot of room for improvement. There is a lot more to come from him. He played really well today.”
Martin Dúbravka, Slovakia goalkeeper: “I felt we were better over the course of the match and didn’t deserve to lose.”
Marek Hamšík, Slovakia captain: “It’s a pity. If they hadn’t scored the penalty, we would probably have got a draw and it would have been a ‘golden’ point. We were a little more passive in the second half and we paid dearly for it.”
Hamšík on Slovakia’s qualification chances: “It’s still open. We have to recover well. Spain are the group favourites and also contenders to win the tournament. It will be very challenging.”
- Sweden are unbeaten so far in 2021, having won six and drawn one of their seven international matches in the calendar year – they have conceded just one goal across the seven matches too.
- Emil Forsberg is the first Swedish player to score at a EURO final tournament since Seb Larsson (19 June 2012 vs France) – their only goal at EURO 2016 was an own goal.
- This was Sweden’s first victory at a EURO finals since that win against France in 2012, and their sixth in 22 EURO finals games overall.
- Sweden have netted 26 goals at EURO final tournaments, with 23 of those coming in the second half of their matches and just three strikes in first halves.
- Slovakia have kept only one clean sheet in their last six EURO final tournament fixtures.
- Sweden and Slovakia have met on six occasions, with Sweden winning three and with three games drawn.
Sweden: Olsen; Lustig, Lindelöf, Danielson, Augustinsson (Bengtsson 88); S Larsson, Ekdal (Svensson 88), Olsson (Claesson 64), Forsberg (Krafth 90+3); Isak, Berg (Quaison 64)
Slovakia: Dúbravka; Pekarík (Haraslín 65), Šatka, Škriniar, Hubočan (Hancko 84); Kucka, Hrošovský (Ďuriš 84); Koscelník, Hamšík (Bénes 77), Mak (Weiss 77); Duda