England eliminates Sweden from Euros with 3-2 win
Theo Walcott finally got his chance at the European
Championship, and he only needed three minutes to make it
Walcott scored shortly after coming on as a substitute and then
set up Danny Welbeck for a sublime winner as England rallied for an
entertaining 3-2 win over Sweden on Friday.
The result eliminated Sweden from the European Championship and
put England on course for the quarterfinals. The English only need
a draw against co-host Ukraine in the final group game to
”Just to make my first appearance in such a high-profile arena
it just means so much to me,” Walcott said. ”It’s been a long
time waiting and hopefully there’ll be more to come from me.”
Walcott was overlooked for his younger Arsenal teammate Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain in England’s opening game of the tournament,
only coming on in injury time, and again began on the bench on
Friday in favor of James Milner and Ashley Young. But after England
wasted a halftime lead to fall behind 2-1 against a Sweden team
desperate for a victory, coach Roy Hodgson turned to Walcott in the
Three minutes later, Walcott had put England level with a
swerving shot from distance after a corner was headed out to the
speedy winger outside the area.
He followed that up by breaking into the area and sending a low
cross to Welbeck, who flicked a backheel past a diving Andreas
Isaksson in the 78th to give England its first win over Sweden in a
competitive game in eight tries.
”It was a very clever finish,” Hodgson said. ”It was goal
worthy, in my opinion, of winning the game.”
England gets Wayne Rooney back in the next game after a
suspension, but with Walcott and Andy Carroll both putting in
strong performances, Hodgson will a tough decision as to who will
be on the bench.
”We all know the ability Theo has got and that’s the same right
across the squad, so whoever comes on the pitch is going to make a
difference,” Welbeck said. ”I’m very happy for Theo.”
After a 1-1 draw against France, Friday’s victory may silence
some of the critics who thought England had become too
defensive-minded under Hodgson as it proved that it can score goals
when it needs to.
”We felt, from the first game, that we wanted to pick it up a
bit more offensively,” Walcott said. ”And if you score three
goals that’s the main thing.”
Sweden, for its part, let a second-half lead slip away for the
second game in a row after falling 2-1 to Ukraine in its opener.
While the Swedes put in a much-improved performance on Friday, they
once again failed to shut their opponents down defensively.
”I thought we were a much better team than them,” Sweden
captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic said. ”We’ve taken the lead in two
games now after 60 minutes and then lost it. … But today we
played exactly the way we want to play.”
In a game that featured plenty of chances for both sides,
Carroll had given England the halftime lead with a powerful header
in the 23rd minute that showed exactly why Hodgson elected to start
the tall Liverpool forward up front. Carroll got between two
defenders to meet Steven Gerrard’s cross into the area as Sweden
was once again exposed in the air.
But Sweden fought back through an unlikely source in Mellberg,
whose shot past Joe Hart was pushed into the net by Glen Johnson.
The veteran defender, who has said he will quit international
football after this tournament, then rose highest to meet a long
free kick from Sebastian Larsson to put the Swedes ahead in the
”It was a cracking game of football,” Hodgson said. ”We were
reasonably comfortable at halftime and had a good control of the
game before they rocked us on our heels.”
But Walcott then started the English comeback when a corner was
headed out to the Arsenal winger outside the area and his shot
wrong-footed Isaksson, who was falling the wrong way and flailing
with his arms as he watched the ball fly into the middle of the
”They were much more effective than we were,” Sweden coach
Erik Hamren said. ”I’m really proud of the players. We showed the
mentality and the attitude I wanted to see. … But to win games
you need also a little bit of luck.”
Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Andreas Granqvist (Mikael Lustig, 66),
Olof Mellberg, Jonas Olsson, Martin Olsson, Anders Svensson, Kim
Kallstrom, Sebastian Larsson, Rasmus Elm (Christian Wilhelmsson,
81), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Elmander (Markus Rosenberg, 79).
England: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard,
John Terry, Andy Carroll, Ashley Young, Joleon Lescott, James
Milner (Theo Walcott, 61), Scott Parker, Danny Welbeck (Alex