herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Advantage Sweden

Jakob Johansson celebrates
Jakob Johansson celebrates

Italy must beat Sweden at San Siro on Monday to have any hope of qualifying for the World Cup in Russia after Jakob Johansson condemned the Azzurri to a 1-0 first-leg defeat in Stockholm.

The four-time world champions risk missing out on the summer finals for the first time since 1958 and this play-off result piles further pressure on a side who struggled throughout the qualifying campaign.

Johansson's second-half winner was helped into the net by the unfortunate Daniele De Rossi to give Sweden the upper hand ahead of the crucial fixture in Milan. Earlier, with Sweden pressing hard, tricky winger Emil Forsberg fired a free-kick over the crossbar before Andrea Belotti fluffed a header at the other end.

Just after the hour mark, it was Sweden who struck the opener. Johansson, on as a substitute for Albin Ekdal put his foot through a headed lay-off. The ball veered past Buffon thanks in part to a helpful deflection off De Rossi.

Italy responded positively as Manchester United full-back Darmian hit a post with a long-range effort but they couldn't make the breakthrough.

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