Robin Quaison earned a penalty that Emil Forsberg converted as Sweden moved atop Group E with a 1-0 win over Slovakia at EURO 2020 on Friday.
The win means Spain and Poland’s opening day flops won’t end their hopes of winning the group until Saturday afternoon’s scrap in Seville.
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Sweden’s four points are one better than Slovakia, while Spain has one and Poland zero.
Saturday is going to be huge!
3 things we learned from Sweden – Slovakia
1. Slovakia flubs the game plan: Slovakia knew a draw would mean knockout round status before facing Spain, having defeated 10-man Poland in the first game. Stefan Tarkovic’s men made no bones about their intention to play it safe, ceding possession to the Swedes and leaning on a very decent back line of Milan Skriniar, Lubomit Satka, Peter Pekarik, and Tomas Hubocan, not to mention Newcastle star goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. Then, well, whoops. Dubravka, took down Robin Quaison and despite his best efforts the Magpies man couldn’t stop Forsberg. Just like that, Sweden went from potential group winner to knockout nerves.
2. Dejan, please: Juventus youngster Dejan Kulusevski returned from a positive COVID-19 test but was not in the Starting XI and pretty much everyone outside of Slovakia was soon waiting for his entry. It wouldn’t arrive, as the 21-year-old’s spot on the bench likely had a bit of smokescreen so it. Or perhaps it was a break glass in case of emergency situation that allowed Sweden boss Jan Andersson to put the hammer away once Forsberg scored his penalty. When you consider what Kulusevski could do to defensive game plans given what Alexander Isak can also bring to the table…
Alexander Isak had the whole Slovakia team on strings!
What a player ⭐🇸🇪 pic.twitter.com/ol1mE1bHUv
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 18, 2021
3. Momentum building for Sweden: The Swedes showed their defensive mettle in blanking Spain then did the same to a Slovakia side that surprised Poland. You could argue that the winner of this game was going to get tournament dark horse status either way, and then you consider that we’ve yet to see Dejan Kulusevski in a team with Isak, Forsberg, and Robin Quaison plus steady presences in Albin Ekdahl and Mikael Lustig in some underappreciated defenders in Victor Lindelof and Ludwig Augustinsson? Maybe!
Man of the Match: Mikael Lustig
The Swedish defender and longtime Celtic man (now with AIK) was solid at the back, just moving ahead of Forsberg and Isak.