Sweden 2-3 England
By Dean Farley
Sunday 17 Jun 2012 15:52:00
Browse all Dean Farley articles

In a match of ups and downs, England showed the world the amount of team spirit and confidence that is in the squad with a 3-2 win over Sweden. 
    It was a dizzy night and, by the end, Roy Hodgson could confidently look ahead to England's chances of reaching the quarter-finals while Sweden contemplated an early exit. "The operation was good, but the patient is dead," Erik Hamren, the Sweden manager, reflected. Yet England are alive and well, needing only a draw from their final group fixture against Ukraine to confirm a place in the last eight.
    As Sweden's woes were only compounded, England can celebrate knowing that they stand a good chance of reaching the quarter-finals. However, as we found out with Russia yesterday, it is not over until it is over!
    Hodgson's men toyed with our nerves and in the worst moments, after Sweden had turned the game upside-down with two goals early in the second half to lead 2-1, they strayed dangerously close to an almost implausible ordeal. England had looked on the brink of capitulation at that point and, afterwards, the striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined Hamren in arguing the result was unjust.
    Team spirit, togetherness, perseverance and determination were all potrayed brilliabtly by the England men. This game illuminated the tournament, and showed that Hodgson's side have the capacity to thrill rather than just being a side who can just function.
    His selection of Andy Carroll was justified with the opening goal and, though Olof Mellberg's double reminds us this is still very much a work in progress, England have put themselves in a position of strength going into their final game in Donetsk on Tuesday.
    As many of you may remember, I criticesed the selection of Andy Carroll in my preview earlier on in the week. However, I have been proven wrong by the big number nine, and I am more than happy to eat every single word that I said about him. Well done Andy!
    By then, Wayne Rooney will be back from suspension, eager to show that his kick on Montenegro's Miodrag Dzudovic last October need not have grave ramifications eight months later. Hodgson, reflecting on a night of high drama, made it clear he would bring him straight into the team, with Carroll presumably the man to leave out. If so, the Liverpool striker can consider himself unfortunate given the way he rose to the challenge of exploring Sweden's vulnerability in the air. Not quite a masterstroke on Hodgson's part, but not far off and fully justifying the manager's belief that Sweden might be susceptible to defending crosses.
    Theo Walcott must also have a strong argument to why he should start against Ukraine; the Arsenal winger completely changed the game, and salvaged the win for England. Not only did he score a great goal within minutes of coming on to level the score, but he made a dazzling run down the wing to assist Welbeck's winning goal. Let's hope Walcott in knocking on Hodgson's door, as I believe that he is a much better option on the right wing than James Milner.
    The downside came in the form of the near-collapse at the start of the second half when Sweden scored twice in quick succession and it was alarming to see the ease with which they got through from two set pieces. The second goal, in particular, will have troubled a man with Hodgson's regard for defensive structure. Sebastian Larsson's free-kick was delivered into the six-yard area and the marking was poor in the extreme as Mellberg directed his header beyond Hart.
    By half-time, it had looked like being a far more mundane occasion. England were on top, playing with more composure than was evident against France, controlling the possession and attacking on the flanks. There were moments of carelessness but they were the better side and Hodgson's research about Sweden's defending had paid dividends in the form of the opening goal.
    I would just like to say a little bit on Steven Garrard. The England captain. Gerrard showed in this game why he is the England captain, and why he is one of the best midfielders in England. Nobody else in the world could have whipped that ball in that lead to the first goal. It was different class! I am so proud to have such a player at the forefront of our European campaign. 
    Tuesday evening sees England face Ukraine in the final group game. Only a draw is needed to send England into the quarter-finals. I'm sure you'll all be cheering the lads on as loud as ever, as I know I will. Come on England!

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