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Forsberg strike sends Sweden into last 8

(Xinhua)    08:06, July 04, 2018

Emil Forsberg (2nd L) of Sweden shoots to score during the 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16 match between Switzerland and Sweden in Saint Petersburg, Russia, July 3, 2018. (Xinhua/Cao Can)

SAINT PETERSBURG, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Emil Forsberg's deflected second-half strike handed Sweden a 1-0 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday and booked the Scandinavian side a place in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Forsberg broke the deadlock in the 66th minute at Saint Petersburg Stadium when his long-range effort rebounded in off Swiss defender Manuel Akanji.

Sweden will now play the winner of Tuesday's other round of 16 duel between England and Colombia in Samara on July 7, with a place in the last four at stake.

"It just means so much to me that we managed to win again in such an extraordinary way," Forsberg said. "We didn't give Switzerland many chances at all. To see what we're achieving together, it just brings tears to my eyes and makes me so proud.

"If we get everything right, we know we can be really good both in defense and attack. We're in the quarterfinals now and that's proof that we're doing something very well."

The Swedes last made it to this stage of the competition in 1994, when Tommy Svensson's side finished third in the United States.

Switzerland will return home with their dream of a first World Cup quarterfinal appearance since 1954 in tatters.

Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic said his team had no way to break down Sweden's defense, which has conceded just two goals in their four matches here.

"We're sorely disappointed, the whole team is," he said. "We clearly wanted to do more. But we also congratulate the Swedish team as they have done precisely what they are very good at, and it has been enough to beat us. Once they score a goal, they're an extremely tough nut to crack."

Petkovic made four changes to the team that drew 2-2 with Costa Rica in their last group match. Former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou and Michael Lang came into the side for the suspended Stephen Lichsteiner and Fabian Schar.

Josip Drmic was also included at the expense of Mario Gavranovic while Steven Zuber replaced Breel Embolo on the left wing.

Sweden made just one alteration to the team that drew 2-2 with Costa Rica, with Gustav Svensson taking the place of suspended former Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson.

Switzerland controlled possession early as Sweden mostly defended with 10 men behind the ball when in their own half.

But it was the Scandinavians that went closest to scoring, with Marcus Berg spurning three chances to put his team ahead in the opening 45 minutes.

The Al-Ain striker fired wide with only the goalkeeper to beat after latching onto a Viktor Claesson through ball and then saw his shot intercepted by Akanji after Yann Sommer's risky goalkick led to a turnover.

But the 31-year-old's best opportunity came late in the half when he sent a downward volley towards the bottom corner only for Sommer to palm the ball clear.

Switzerland rarely troubled Robin Olsen's goal. They came closest to hitting the target when Blerim Dzemaili drilled an attempt over the bar after combining with Steven Zuber on the left.

Albin Ekdal should have given Sweden the lead on the stroke of halftime when he volleyed over while unmarked at the far post after a Mikael Lustig cross.

The second half began just like the first, with Sweden looking the most likely team to score.

Ola Toivonen struck an effort over the bar after the ball was cleverly worked forward by Forsberg, who wove his way past three opponents near the halfway line.

Sweden finally got their reward just after the hour mark. Forsberg received Toivonen's cross from the left and thumped a shot that took a sharp deflection off Akanji's right leg and flew into the top corner, leaving Sommer with no chance.

Ekdal then blasted over from distance after turning smartly past Granit Xhaka.

Breel Embolo came on for Steven Zuber in the 73rd minute and the Schalke forward provided an immediate spark, showing a willingness to run at Sweden's back four.

But the Swedes defended resolutely and had Olsen to thank in the first minute of stoppage time for acrobatically keeping out a bullet header from Haris Seferovic after Ricardo Rodriguez's cross from the left.

There was drama in the last minute of stoppage time as Sweden substitute Martin Olssen went down inside the box after being pushed by Lang when clear on goal.

Referee Damir Skomina referred the incident to the video assistant referee, who correctly ruled that contact was made just outside the box. But Lang was sent off as Olssen was the last man.

Toivonen's curling effort from the resultant set piece was then saved by Sommer with the last kick of the match.

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(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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