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WORLD CUP 2018: Sweden top Group F with emphatic win over Mexico

Sweden have pulled off the miraculous, taking out a comprehensive 3-0 win against Mexico to top Group F against all the odds.

Mexico were essentially assured a place in the round of 16, yet their Group F counterparts were yet to be determined. Germany and Sweden were vying for a place in the knockout stage against Korea and Mexico respectively.

The intensity of the occasion came to fruition barely seconds after kickoff as Gallardo found himself cautioned in seconds, the fastest yellow card in World Cup history. Early signs showed neither team was willing to be walked on.

The only way to describe this one is dogged, ragged football. Both sides throwing themselves into every challenge. What was an evenly balanced contest slowly turned to Swedish control. Sweden clearly the team with everything to play for, while Mexico had nothing to lose.

Javier Hernandez proved himself an unpopular figure amongst the Swedes with a suggested handball inside the penalty area. VAR intervention was fruitless as referee Nestor Pitana continued play after consulting the maligned review system.

Astonishingly, Sweden shocked all with the first goal of the gritty clash. A deft flick of the ball found Augustinsson at close range and he had no issues sending a tidy volley past the outstretched hands of Ochoa.

Mexico began to unravel as their famously exciting brand of football became conscientious, cautious with each possession yet unable to convert their chances they would have eaten for breakfast in the first two games.

Mexico began to buckle under the high stakes of the occasion, yet Sweden held firm to their predictions of staying focused on the task at hand. Hector Moreno gifted Sweden a golden opportunity by giving away a needless penalty, and captain Granqvist made no mistake from the spot to put his side up 2-0.

Mexico's frustration was compounded into despair, an unfortunate pinball error forced an own goal off Alvarez as Sweden's fans were elated. Mexico's best chance went begging right in front of the goal mouth as Carlos Vela sent his point-blank header extraordinarily wide.

What seemed an impossible task turned to utter joy for Sweden as a comprehensive 3-0 win put them as group winners into the next stage of World Cup football, while spectacularly sending World Cup holders Germany home bottom of Group F.

While the game wasn't the prettiest of clashes, it was certainly one of the most competitive and exciting encounters you'll see at Russia 2018. Mexico may have opened their campaign with fantastic football, however their flaws were exposed to the world by Swedish kryptonite.


WORLD CUP - GROUP F

Mexico - 0

Sweden - 2 (Augustinsson 50', Granqvist 60', Alvarez OG 74')

Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg

About the author

Chris Sermeno

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