Sweden edges past Switzerland, enters quarterfinals

Manuel Akanji's unfortunate touch on Emil Forsberg's shot sent Sweden through to the quarterfinal of the FIFA World Cup.

Sweden players celebrate their first goal.   -  Getty Images

Sweden is through to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1994 after a deflected goal from Emil Forsberg clinched a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

The first meeting between the nations at a major tournament simmered for 65 minutes in St Petersburg until Forsberg's fortunate strike handed Sweden a crucial lead.

READ: SWE vs SUI - Key highlights

The RB Leipzig playmaker's tame effort was heading straight at Yann Sommer until Switzerland defender Manuel Akanji stuck out a foot, sending the ball looping beyond his wrong-footed goalkeeper.

Forsberg also produced a well-timed clearance in his own penalty area to preserve the advantage against a Switzerland side who finished with 10 men, defender Michael Lang seeing red after clipping the heels of Martin Olsson just outside the penalty area when the substitute was clean through on goal.

 

Referee Damir Skomina initially gave a penalty deep into stoppage time before VAR intervened, though the change of decision made no difference to the final outcome of the contest.

The only disappointment for Sweden was a first-half booking picked up by Mikael Lustig, ruling the defender out of a last-eight clash against either Colombia or England in Samara on Saturday.

In contrast, Switzerland's run in Russia came to a rather subdued end. They had to change half of its defence for the last-16 tie, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schar were both ruled out through suspension, yet it was in attack where the side struggled the most.

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The reshuffled back four stood firm in the first half, though they relied upon goalkeeper Yann Sommer's reactions to turn away Marcus Berg's first-time strike with his left foot.

The side was also fortunate to see an unmarked Albin Ekdal fail to hit the target prior to the break, the Hamburg midfielder going for an ambitious volley instead of throwing his head at Lustig's inviting cross from the right.

 

Blerim Dzemaili blazed over at the other end to waste a rare sight of goal for Switzerland, which has become a second-half specialist at this year's tournament.

Yet Vladimir Petkovic's side - who had scored four of their five goals in Russia after the break - continued to struggle, only waking out of their slumber when they fell behind just after the hour.

Ola Toivonen wastefully fired over when well positioned inside the penalty area before Forsberg finally broke the deadlock, albeit more through luck than judgement, his attempt clipping the unfortunate Akanji to beat Sommer.

 

Switzerland responded to the setback by sending on forwards Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic, the former back with the national team after returning home for the birth of his daughter, and the latter did test Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen with a header.

Sweden was denied the chance to double its lead from the spot following Lang's late dismissal for taking out Olsson, with Sommer beating away Toivonen's driven free-kick after a lengthy delay - but one goal was enough for Janne Andersson's side to progress.

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