LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS in AL AIN: Sweden withstood Iraqi pressure to win their Group F opener 4-1 with three second-half goals for their first-ever tournament victory at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
IFK Goteborg’s Gustav Engvall took the hero’s role with two goals. He said later: “To beat a good Iraq team 4-1 with two goals for me could not be better. This is a dream coming true. I did not have in mind, when I made my debut in the national team, that I would play a World Cup.”
Iraq’s fans created a lively atmosphere inside the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium with their instruments and songs for much of the game and their team were also dominant in the opening 15 minutes. They did put the ball in the net but the ‘goal’ was offside.
Striker Sherko Kareem, technically skilled and quick, presented the main threat to the Swedish defense and had at least two fine chances to score.
Swedish goalkeeper Sixten Mohlin first made a double save and then stopped Kareem once again when the Iraqi had an opportunity on the left.
Later Mohlin put his save down to “a lot of luck.” Whatever the reason, his brilliance handed Sweden the opportunity to come back into the game and score with their first shot at goal. Captain Elias Andersson played the ball into the penalty area from the left, Mustafa Sameer failed to clear and Engvall shot in.
Iraq equalised with a brilliant piece of individualism from captain Mohammed Salam who controlled a cross on his chest then twisted to volley home.
The second half, however, belonged to Sweden. Between the 67th and 72th minute Gustav Engvall scored a second time after a long pass from Elias Andersson; substitute Anton Saletros scored a third and defender Ali Suljic a fourth in the 89th minute.
Goalkeeper Sixten Mohlin about his double save in the beginning of the game: “I had a lot of luck there, I got a leg on it so that was good.”
Despite Sweden’s three-goal margin they ended the day in second place in Group F, behind Nigeria on goal difference after the Africans’ earlier 6-1 thrashing of previous world champions Mexico.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course in UAE with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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