Italy face battle to reach World Cup after Sweden loss
Sweden will take a slender advantage into the second leg of their World Cup qualification playoff against Italy after a tight 1-0 win in the first game in Stockholm.
Sweden 1 Italy 0
Dull first half
Johansson breaks the deadlock
Swedes cling on for narrow win
It was not a night to remember for fans who traveled to the stadium nor those who tuned in on television, with neither side showing much attacking endeavour.
Once Sweden had their lead six minutes after half time through Jakob Johansson, they shut up shop and Italy were just unable to break them down.
One very interested spectator in Solna… pic.twitter.com/psv8y9ZHCK
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 10, 2017
The match began in fiery fashion with Marcus Berg finding himself in the book less than two minutes into the game after a furious argument with the referee.
The sides then traded chances with Andrea Belotti heading the ball inches wide before Ola Toivonen was thwarted by Gianluigi Buffon at the other end.
Unfortunately, despite such a brisk start, that was about it for the action in the first half. It was clear from the outset that Sweden were not going to take many risks and it always felt like one goal would be enough to win this game.
Could Italy really miss the World Cup? pic.twitter.com/GtQpU5Degw
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 10, 2017
And so it proved to be when Johansson broke the deadlock in the 61st minute and it had the element of luck needed in such a game. He shot from the edge of the area and it took a deflection to wrong-foot Buffon and nestle safely into the back of the net.
Darmian went agonisingly close with an opportunistic snap shot from the edge of the area late on, but the effort slammed into the post and rebounded away, summing up the visitors night neatly.