RECAP: Sweden blanks Mexico; Both advance to knockout round
Ludwig Augustinsson volleyed a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa from close range five minutes into the second half, and captain Andreas Granqvist converted a penalty kick to help Sweden take control Wednesday and win Group F.
Despite the loss, Mexico also advances as runner-up in the group thanks to South Korea’s surprising 2-0 over defending champion Germany. Mexico has been to the round of 16 for seven straight World Cups. Sweden had not been to the knockout stage since 2006.
Mexico’s Edson Alvarez had an own goal in the 74th minute to put the game out of reach at 3-0.
As Sweden’s lead grew, Mexican fans paid more attention to the other game, rooting against Germany, which could have passed Mexico with a victory depending on tiebreakers.
El Tri’s faithful could be seen frantically checking their phones for scoring updates in Germany’s game soon after Sweden’s second goal. After South Koreas’ first goal, they let up a loud cheer and tossed drinks in the air as their chances of advancing improved.
Great organization and some fortunate timing played out in the second half for Sweden, which successfully recovered from an emotional, last-minute loss to Germany in its second game.
Augustinsson scored when the ball luckily landed in his path following a mistimed shot from Viktor Claesson that popped up straight to his teammate.
For Granqvist it was his second goal from the spot in the tournament, after he also scored on a penalty kick against South Korea.
With a 2-0 lead in its pocket and Mexico watching the score from the other match, Sweden took total control.
It culminated with Alvarez’s own goal, which occurred when he was trying to prevent Ola Toivonen from connecting with the ball, sending it past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
”We just need to move on,” Ochoa said. ”This is the World Cup. We can’t pull it out of our pocket, it’s not going to be easy and I think it’s a good lesson for what’s to come.”
Alvarez’s own goal was the seventh overall of the tournament, the most in World Cup history, breaking the record of six set in 1998.
Neither Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio nor Sweden coach Janne Andersson made changes to their lineups. In Osorio’s case, it was the first time he hadn’t altered his starting 11 in consecutive games since he took over in 2015.
Mexico’s Jesus Gallardo was called for a yellow card just 13 seconds in – believed to be the fastest in World Cup history – setting up the first of two quick set-piece opportunities that Sweden could not take advantage of.
Each team had several near misses in the first half.
Berg was just wide in the 12th minute. Mexico’s Lozano Hirving was about a foot outside the left post on his strike from about 20 yards away. Carlos Vela also had a pair of close misses.
The play of the first half came in the 31st minute when Ochoa leapt to tip away a corner kick rebound shot from Berg.
That chance came only minutes after Mexico dodged a penalty kick being awarded to Sweden when a video assistant referee review ruled Javier Hernandez had not committed a handball.
Sweden wins Group F and will face the runner-up of Group E (Brazil, Switzerland or Serbia) in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
As the runner-up of Group F Mexico meets winner of Group E Monday in Samara.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Sweden didn’t panic despite missing on its early chances to score in the first half. The Swedes stayed crisp in their exchanges on offense and it helped them find seams in El Tri’s defense.
Mexico will lament its missed chances early as well. But its aggressive style also bit them, opening up some counterstrike chances for Sweden, which it took advantage of.
With his second yellow card of the tournament, Moreno also misses Mexico’s next game.