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Sweden cruise to victory over Mexico as both qualify for World Cup last 16
June 28, 2018, 3:14 pm
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Sweden propelled themselves into the World Cup knockout stage with a handsome victory over Mexico that qualified them as Group F winners and condemned Germany to early elimination. Mexico, undone on the counter attack and from the penalty spot before conceding an own goal, joined Sweden in reaching the next round as runners-up despite the defeat as a result of the defending champions also losing.

Germany, the four-time World Cup winners, were beaten 2-0 by South Korea and failed to reach the knockout stage for the first time in 16 consecutive appearances since 1954.

Sweden also had a first-half penalty claim for a handball by Javier Hernandez denied despite going to a VAR review, but in the end it mattered little after their three second-half goals.

Ludwig Augustinsson fired Sweden ahead five minutes after the break when a Viktor Claesson mis-hit inadvertently found him free at the far post, before Andreas Granqvist smashed home a penalty 12 minutes later following Hector Moreno's trip on Marcus Berg.

Mexico - who went close through a curling Carlos Vela effort in the first half - pressed hard for a reply but were punished again when Edson Alvarez clumsily turned an attempted clearance past his own keeper.

Juan Carlos Osorio's side, so brilliant in their previous two wins over Germany and South Korea, should have had a goal to show from their underwhelming performance but Vela's late header was dismal.

The teams will find out who they play in the next round later this evening, after the final round of matches in Group E.

As it stands Sweden would face Switzerland, while Mexico, who have been knocked out in the last 16 of every World Cup since 1994, will most likely play Brazil.

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez had only 30 touches against Sweden, the fewest by a Mexico player

With the game fading into injury time and Sweden certain of victory, Mexican fans began to think what was before the game unthinkable - possible elimination.

At that stage, Germany were still drawing 0-0 with South Korea, and a late goal for Joachim Low's side would have moved them into second place on goal difference.

So the two late goals for South Korea - the second came after the final whistle had been blown in Ekaterinburg - were greeted with celebration and relief at the end of a Mexico performance that had little to cheer about.

This was the first time in Colombian Osario's 51 matches in charge of the team that he made no changes from their previous match.

But his team were completely unrecognisable from the 2-1 victory over South Korea that followed that impressive opening 1-0 win against Germany.

They found it far more difficult against Sweden, who were well organised and aggressive all over the pitch.

It now seems that Osario - criticised in the past for too much tinkering - will face questions of a different sort, just when he thought he had found his best XI.

Sweden beat Mexico

Sweden were highly impressive against a team that were fancied to be a danger in the knockout phase

Sweden's cruel last-minute defeat by Germany in the second round of matches looked to have severely diminished their chances of reaching the knockout stage.

But they emphatically put that result behind them.

Before Toni Kroos' 95th-minute goal for Germany, they had performed much in the same way as they did here; difficult to break down, dangerous on the counter and combative at every opportunity.

The only difference was that they were far more clinical against Mexico when chances presented themselves and their three second-half goals left their opponents reeling.

Competing at the tournament for the first time since 2006, it will be intriguing to see how far they can go.

Man of the match - Andreas Granqvist

Andreas Granqvist

Sweden's captain was solid in defence and decisive from the penalty spot

The fastest World Cup booking - the key stats

  • Sweden have now reached the last 16 of the World Cup on each of the last four occasions in which they have qualified for the tournament.
  • This was Sweden's biggest win in a World Cup match since they defeated Bulgaria 4-0 in 1994 in the third-place play-off match.
  • Mexico have reached the last 16 in each of the last eight World Cup tournaments they have taken part in.
  • Andreas Granqvist is the first Swede to score two or more goals in a single World Cup tournament since Henrik Larsson in 2002 (three goals).
  • This was Mexico's worst defeat at the World Cup since they were beaten 6-0 by Germany in 1978.
  • Ludwig Augustinsson's opener was the first goal he has scored for Sweden's senior team... with what was his first shot at this tournament.
  • Mexico's Jesus Gallardo was shown a yellow card after just 15 seconds in this game - the quickest anyone has ever been booked in the World Cup.
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