NIZHNY NOVGOROD Russia (Xinhua) --
A penalty awarded after referee applying to VAR
helped Sweden defeat South Korea 1-0 in their opening World Cup
Group F match at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Monday.
This had been a
crucial and must-win match for both teams, as South Korea vowed
to satisfy domestic fans who were disappointed by team’s winless
performance in 2014, and Sweden would want their first opening
game win of the World Cup since 1958.
dominated the game for the first 10 minutes before Sweden, who
have been absent for World Cup stage for 12 years, took control.
The Swedes created
an excellent opportunity in the first fruitless 45 minutes, when
Marcus Berg’s shot was denied by South Korean goal keeper Jo
Hyeonwoo’s marvelous movement plus a bit luck.
sides, South Korea’s spearhead Son Heungmin, who initially
played as left-winger, produced an 80-meter drive all the way
into the opponents’ penalty area, but his cross was stopped by
Swedish captain Andreas Granqvist.
Viktor Claesson was
tripped by Kim Minwoo in the box, but the game went on with no
whistle. Under the pressure of the Scandinavian spectators and
constant protests of the Swedish players, the referee decided to
apply to the reviewing system, and awarded a penalty kick to the
Swedes. Granqvist took the spot kick and gave his team the
winner in the 65th minute.
Germany yesterday made the group even tougher for us, it was
fantastic to be winner of this important match”, said Granqvist
at the post-game press conference.
“We could have
started the first ten minutes better, we created a couple of
opportunities and got a penalty awarded, then we were just
fighting till the end,” the captain added, pointing out his team
is now focusing on the game with Germany.
Despite the fact
that his team got a match-deciding penalty eventually, Swedish
coach Janne Andersson still questioned the referee’s initial
judgement. “I think the case was crystal clear, the VAR was not
even needed. With the position the referee had, he could have
given the penalty straight away,” Andersson said.
“We really wanted to
win, that’s the attitude our players had coming into this game.
If we won today’s game, it would be better and easier for us to
fight against Mexico and Germany,” said South Korean coach Shin
Shin admitted that
the penalty was a good call, just wishing his player could have
Speaking of the next
game, Shin said, “Yesterday Mexico played very well, we know
they are going to be a formidable opponent, and we will prepare
Sweden will play
reigning champions Germany on June 23, and South Korea are to
battle with Mexico the same day.