Sweden get their first opening match win at a World Cup since 1958 beating Korea Republic 1-0 on Monday in their FIFA World Cup Group F preliminary round football (soccer) match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod.
Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist scored the only goal from penalty spot in the 62nd minute. The penalty was awarded after the referee consulted the on-field video review – VAR.
Referee Joel Aguilar used the replay technology to decide whether South Korea substitute Kim Min-woo had fouled Viktor Claesson in the area after initially waving play on. Kim had tripped Claesson, though, and the converted penalty was enough to give Sweden its first World Cup victory since 2006 – and first opening match win since 1958.
It was the third VAR penalty awarded at these championships after France and Peru also benefited from video referrals.
It was a comprehensive defeat for Korea Republic, who have failed to match their opponents in every aspect of the game. Another experimental approach in terms of tactics did not quite go well against Sweden. It may be disappointing for them, but the players need to regroup and prepare for the next one.
Before the penalty, Sweden controlled the game and showed most of the attacking intent.
It was the Europeans who came closest to breaking the deadlock when forward Marcus Berg was denied by a fine point-blank save Jo Hyeon-woo in the 20th minute.
Berg was denied again nine minutes later by a desperate last-ditch block from Kim Young-gwon.
Despite their increasing dominance, Sweden also demonstrated why they have struggled to score goals.
Berg, again, and Claesson went close before the end of the half, but it was clear for everyone to see why they had only scored once in their four matches prior to Russia.
South Korea had a chance to level in injury time but Hwang Hee-chan put a header wide from in front of goal.
Resilient Sweden held firm after the goal and the Hwang late scare aside, and a half-hearted South Korea appeal for a penalty, their defence rarely looked troubled.
The victory leaves Sweden joint top of the group after Mexico’s surprise victory against world champions Germany on Sunday.
Sweden will next play Germany, which lost to Mexico 1-0 in the other Group F match, on Saturday. The South Koreans face Mexico that same day.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.