Man United defender Victor Lindelof one of three Sweden players to earn an 8 in our ratings

Matt Jones 23/06/2018
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Sweden will be gutted to have thrown away a point as Toni Kroos rifled in a sublime stoppage time free-kick to earn 10-man Germany a 2-1 World Cup win.

Ola Toivonen made the unthinkable seem possible when he put Sweden ahead with a delicate chip.

Marco Reus spearheaded the German revival when he levelled early in the second half.

They surged forward but Sweden were stout in resisting them and Germany’s progress was halted late on when Jerome Boateng stupidly saw red.

Even so, they pulled their fading hopes of progression out of the fire when Kroos rocketed in a thunderous set-piece with seconds remaining.

Here are our Sweden ratings:

 

SWEDEN (4-4-2)

Robin Olsen – 8:

Terrific one-handed save to somehow keep out Ilkay Gundogan’s deflected shot. Another spectacular stop from Gomez in the second half. Sublime.

Mikael Lustig – 6:

Had a quiet first half before struggling as Werner wondered out to the left. A solid outing though.

Victor Lindelof – 8:

Brilliantly cut out Reus’s cutback. Sweden’s joint youngest player put in a performance worthy of a veteran.

Andreas Granqvist – 8:

A gritty show in the heart of Sweden’s defence, especially in the face of a second-half onslaught.

Ludwig Augustinsson – 6:

Kept Muller in check easily, but had his hands full with the marauding Reus after the interval.

Viktor Claesson – 5:

Crucial clearance as Germany piled on the pressure. Didn’t offer much in an attacking sense down his right wing.

Sebastian Larsson – 7:

Sparked attacks and kept possession precisely, and was stoic as he put in a shift defensively too.

Albin Ekdal – 6:

Sniped and scurried about the pitch, pinching possession off Germany players and looking to contribute in attack.

Emil Forsberg – 7:

Lovely early pirouette turn and drive into Germany territory laid the foundations for his evening. Constant scourge of the Germans.

Ola Toivonen – 7:

Sensational finish which gave his side the lead was coolness personified. Supported Berg well and always looking to probe.

Marcus Berg – 7:

A handful for Rudiger and Boateng throughout. Header on half-time kept out brilliantly by Neuer. Deserved a goal.

SUBS:

Jimmy Durmaz – 6:

Almost scored soon after coming on with a lashed effort on goal.

John Guidetti – 6:

Replaced the tireless Toivonen and buzzed around Germany’s defence.

Isaac Thelin – N/A:

Brought on with one minute remaining.

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Video: Mathew Leckie asks Socceroos fans to leave Robbie Kruse alone

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Under fire: Robbie Kruse.

Mathew Leckie has urged Socceroos fans to tone down their reactions after Robbie Kruse received a barrage of abuse and threats of violence on social media.

Kruse has been targeted for a disappointing performance at the World Cup, with even members of his family being threatened online.

Such has been the ferocity of the abuse, Australian team members have been forced to defend Kruse.

“It’s just disappointing — not just for him, but for all players,” Leckie said.

“We’re representing Australia and it’s the people back home that are saying bad things. It’s understandable that they might like [some] players more than others. But it doesn’t give anyone the right to abuse a player.”

Watch the full video below.

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Chelsea star Eden Hazard is the Hero of the Day after Belgium blitz against Tunisia

Chris Bailey 23/06/2018
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Brought to you by Dior Sauvage

If Belgium were sluggish out of the traps against Panama, they went thundering into Tunisia on Saturday – and much of that was down to a special performance from Eden Hazard.

The Chelsea forward won and converted a penalty before latching on to Toby Alderweireld’s through ball and expertly rounding keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha for his second after the break.

Here’s a closer look at Hazard’s performance, as his goals in the 5-2 thrashing only tell half the story.

KEY STATS

24 06 hero of day EDEN HAZARD- English

30-SECOND REPORT

Hazard wasn’t given a sliver of space in which to operate against Panama but with Tunisia needing a result having been denied a draw at the death against England, pockets naturally opened up for the 27-year-old.

It only took four minutes for his first significant contribution as he was felled by Syam Ben Youssef just inside the box, before nonchalantly dispatching his penalty.

He doubled up after the break and while his run and finish was a thing of beauty, he also had Tottenham defender Alderweireld to thank with his laser-precision pass from deep in Belgium territory. Hazard was then taken off after 68 minutes to save his legs for later in the tournament.

GOT RIGHT

Quick release – Unlike at Chelsea, where Alvaro Morata has failed to stamp his authority on Premier League defences, Hazard has a battering ram – who is also capable of silkiness – in Romelu Lukaku up front. That’s helpful for the Man United star too as soon as Hazard gets the ball his head is up assessing the situation, and he either goes on a mazy dribble or feeds his fellow forwards. Hazard didn’t directly assist Lukaku – his speed of thought was essential to virtually every Belgium attack, however.

Finishing – Hazard had only scored one goal at a major tournament before Saturday’s effort, against Hungary at Euro 2016. He has always been extremely good at penalties but it is encouraging that in open play, the former Lille star looked composed to complete his brace and also got three of his four shots on target.

GOT WRONG

Pressure from on high – This is a real nit-pick but Hazard didn’t make a single telling contribution defensively. Though this is by no means a key part of his job, in an era where defence starts from attack and more often than not pressing in the opponents’ half, it’s fairly easy for teams to bypass the likes of Hazard and Dries Mertens and put pressure on their admittedly sublime midfield. It is a real weakness for Roberto Martinez’s side.

VERDICT

Belgium will never be guaranteed a clean sheet with such an attacking line-up, which is why it is imperative that all their attackers operate on the same wavelength and outscore the opposition.

Though Tunisia are hardly the most dangerous team he’ll face, that Hazard was so deadly against a side who needed a result was encouraging. The question is: Will he prove effective against a better unit that will close their ranks in the knockout rounds?

RATING – 9/10

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