ST PETERSBURG: Sweden, who reached the World Cup finals only thanks to a single-goal victory over Italy in the qualifying playoffs, reached the quarter-finals by defeating Switzerland with a single deflected goal in St Petersburg.
Emil Forsberg struck the initial show midway through the second half and it changed direction off the boot of luckless central defender Manuel Akanji and wongfooted keeper Yann Sommer.
Switzerland ended with 10 men after Michael Lang was shown the fourth red card of the finals for a push on Martin Olsson, who was clean through on goal. Referee Damir Skomina initially awarded a penalty but changed his decision to a free-kick after a video review.
Sweden thus reached the last eight for the first time since 1994 when they finished third in the United States.
There were 30 shots from Sweden and Switzerland but only seven on target. Sommer brilliantly clawed away a shot on the turn from Marcus Berg in the first half and later did well to deny Haris Seferovic in a game which saw both sides guilty of wasting their chances.
The worst miss was by Sweden’s Albin Ekdal, who was superbly picked out by Mikael Lustig’s beautifully weighted cross but sliced high and wife shortly before half-time.
At the other end Switzerland’s Steven Zuber was off target with a near-post header and later set up Blerim Dzemaili only to see him who miscue his shot.
Switzerland have thus still never won a World Cup knockout match, having suffered elimination in all seven matches, including their last four last-16 games (in 1994, 2006, 2014 and 2018).
Sweden, by contrast, won successive matches for the first time since 1958, when they won the quarter-final and semi-final on their way to the final as host nation.