09/08/2021 at 11:24 PM CEST
Sweden crashed in Athens (2-1) against a courageous Greece and against the posts to add their first defeat in the classification to Qatar 2022 and open again the options of Spain to be group champion.
The victory in Stockholm against Luis Enrique’s team less than a week ago seemed to clear the way for Sweden to the only place that guarantees a direct ticket to the World Cup. But this Wednesday it ended up beaten by Greece and with doubts in a decaffeinated performance.
Greece was more than Sweden in the first half. He dominated the ball and the game at times, remained orderly and did not allow counterattacks. It only lacked more bite at the top, more forcefulness.
Most of the Greek danger came from the left wing, Tsimikas, who gave the first warning with a great individual play that culminated in a centered shot that Olsen caught.
Much more effort had to be made for the Swedish goalkeeper a minute later. Pavlidis exposed Lindelöf twice. First, using the body better. Then sitting him down with a dribble. But his shot took Olsen to a corner with a great hand.
Greece, a fairly limited team without stars, little can be reproached for in effort and will. If anything in excess of theatricality. Every contact was exaggerated to the extreme. Russian referee Karasev did not bite.
Sweden did not feel comfortable at all
But curiously it was possible to go to rest with one or two goals in favor. Svanberg hit the post with a volley from outside the area in the 3rd minute. There was almost no word from “Janne” Andersson’s team for the next half hour.
Until Forsberg began to wake up and cheer up his teammates. Lindelöf shot lazily with his left foot inside the area in a corner. And, in discount, Vlachodimos showed off deflecting a great shot from Svanberg and a point-blank shot at Isak.
Sweden improved with the break. Kulusevski began to activate, there was some dangerous robbery upstairs. Chalzidiacos got the goal from Isak playing the penalty when he was about to finish. Forsberg headed out shortly after.
But it was Greece, which was still giving some scare, which went ahead with a simple play. A wall between Bakasetas and Douvikas through the center of the Swedish defense, including a cue, was completed by the Greek captain alone against Olsen.
Bouchalakis was able to close the game two minutes later with a header that was narrowly deflected. It was almost expensive, because Claeson had the equalizer on a pass from Isak, but his forced shot ended up against the wood.
And in a counter culminated by Pavlidis, it was Greece that finally made the second, with suspense included by the VAR that ratified the validity of the goal.
Quaison gave excitement with a goal to a rebound from Forsberg’s shot, but not even the desperate resource of accumulating strikers was working. The draw came from inside Leipzig, the best of their team, but his shot crashed into Zeca’s face.
Sweden is now doomed, if the expected results are produced in the rest of the clashes, to play the leadership the last day away from home against Spain.
Data sheet:Greece: Vlachodimmos; Tzavellas, Mavropanos, Chalzidiacos; Tsimikas, Bouchalakis, Zeca, Androutsos; Douvikas (Tzolis, m.71), Pavlidis, Bakasetas.
Sweden: Olsen; Johansson (Krafth, m.76), Helander (Danielsson, m.88), Lindelöf, Augustinsson; Claesson (Karlsson, m.77), Olsson, Svanberg (Quaison, m.66), Forsberg; Kulusevski (Kiese Thelin, d.88), Isak.
Goals: 1-0, m.62: Bakasetas; 2-0, m.78: Pavlidis; 2-1, m.80: Quaison.
Referee: Sergei Karasev (Russia). He admonished with a yellow card, for Greece, Pavlidis (m.8), Bouchalakis (m.45); for Sweden, Claesson (m.53), Helander (m.70).
Incidents: Match of the sixth day of European group B qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, played at the Spyros Louis Olympic Stadium in Athens.