In another display of poor defending Sweden lost the game, and all hope. With this second loss the Swedes walk the same path as Ireland and are out of the Euros.
I wrote ahead of the tournament that Sweden would be conceding goals this summer. I was hoping they were going to be able to keep those goals down to one per game. But you cannot concede three goals in a game against England and think that you are going to get away with it.
And with another poor Swedish defensive performance it is somewhat ironic that Olof Mellberg scored both (oh well) of the Swedish goals.
One cannot help but feel for the Swedish fans that travelled in large numbers to Ukraine. On Friday there were 18 000 Swedes in the stands offering full support. They were hoping to keep partying in good spirits for at least another four days but were deprived of that.
All in all the Swedish players worked their hearts out and for me; this loss comes down to coaching. When the Swedes went 2-1 up they were always going to need a miracle to keep a hold of those three points.
This team cannot close a game down. And this manager cannot put on a defensive midfielder (Pontus Wernbloom) when he is a goal up. Erik Hamrén talked in the post match interview about having control throughout the game. Sweden had no control, and neither had England. Sweden came out the unlucky loser.
I want to give credit to Anders Svensson who started the game and showed immense character in the centre of the pitch. He closed down Scott Parker and put a hurting on several other English players.
For the near future Sweden are left with the opportunity of causing trouble for France with a victory. One thing is however certain. They will be giving away goals in that game too.
The tables are set. Sweden need at least a point in the game against England, or they are out of the tournament. And with their backs against the wall the Swedes can lean towards their record against the Three Lions through history.
Sweden have lost just one game against the English the past 40 years (November 2011 in a friendly game). And in competitive games Sweden have not lost since 1908, at the Olympics in London.
However, no history in the world will save a team performing anywhere near the level Sweden did in their opening game against Ukraine. So in this do-or-die game Sweden will have to start showing some character to be able to continue writing history.
There will definitely be changes to the line up for this, the second game. Anders Svensson will probably start in central midfield. Johan Elmander will probably also start, replacing Markus Rosenberg up front.
We may even see Christian Wilhelmsson out on the left wing and Jonas Olsson in central defence with Andreas Granqvist moving out to a fullback position, replacing Mikael Lustig. As many as four changes if Erik Hamrén is bold.
One who definitely will start is Ibrahimovic. And even though England this far has looked a better team, they have no player matching ‘Ibra’ in quality. And that star quality might just be what keeps Sweden in this tournament, at least for four more days.
Sweden promised to play this tournament with a new, more attack minded football. They didn’t keep that promise. Balls were hoofed long, passing was poor and possession was low. And the Euro 2000 opening game scoreline of 1-2 (against Belgium) was repeated. And as it was then, Sweden might end up bottom of the group, packing their bags early.
All in all it was an abysmal performance from every player on the pitch, with the exception of Ibrahimovic. The tall captain was the only one stepping up to the occasion and his teammates will surely get an earful from both coach Erik Hamrén and Ibrahimovic post match. They will all struggle to look themselves in the mirror after this. And there will definitely be no riding the water slides at the hotel tomorrow.
Before the tournament there has been a debate of who would get the spot along side Olof Mellberg in the centre of defence. Mellberg lost Shevchenko for the equaliser in a poor display of defending. An action such as that has previously been unthinkable by defensive giant Mellberg. He too, will struggle to look himself in the mirror.
Just like in the pretournament games against Iceland and Serbia, Sweden conceded from a corner. If you’re a betting man you would be wise to put your money on Sweden conceding goals from corners against England and France too.
Elmander didn’t start the game but his miss with minutes to go makes you wonder if it wasn’t for the best. There is absolutely nothing from this match that Sweden can take with them into the game against England on Friday.
Sweden will have to break down and rebuild, and Anders Svensson will have to start in central midfield. One can only hope the Swedish players have the pride to come back from this.
To finish this off in a somewhat positive manner, I would take my hat off for Shevchenko. If it was going to be anyone thrashing our hopes to achieve anything this tournament it would be him. What a legend.