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FT England 3 – 2 Sweden

FT England 3 – 2 Sweden

On the right flank at 23′, Steven Gerrard bends a sumptuous ball into the area that was just begging to be headed in. With Sweden’s central defenders all over the place, Carroll gets in between them and bullets a towering header into the bottom-left corner from 12 yards out, Isaksson given no chance. What a header! What a managerial masterstroke! 1-0 fro England.

At 49′, Carroll brings the Swedish midfielder down as he lined up a shot 25 yards out, giving away a free-kick. Ibrahimovic smacked his first effort into the wall, but it came back to him, so he tried an optimistic scissor-kick back into the area. It was going well wide, but it squirmed through to Mellberg, who was played onside by Glen Johnson, having a wee snooze around three yards behind the rest of the England defence. On the right side of the area, Mellberg scuffed a finish that spooned up off Hart and then clanged off Johnson’s chest, the ball eventually spinning over the line despite his best efforts. What a slapstick farce that was. 1-1.

From the resulting free-kick at 59′,  Larsson hangs a high, deep free-kick to the far post where Mellberg, totally unmarked six yards from goal, barely has to jump to nod past Hart and into the left corner. Where on earth was the marking? No one was near Mellberg, apart from more Sweden players. England have completely collapsed. 2-1 for Sweden!

At 64′, Theo Walcott equalises with his first touch! What a substitution from Roy Hodgson! It all came from an England corner, won when John Terry’s close-range header from Johnson’s cross was somehow turned over the bar by Isaksson, who may not have known too much about it. From the resulting corner, a clearance falls to Walcott 25 yards out. He takes a touch and rams a shot goalwards. It takes a tiny but decisive touch off Larsson and flies past the wrong-footed Isaksson into the middle of the goal. A fine response from England after a disastrous opening to the second half. 2-2.

At 78′, Theo Walcott, who has made a real difference since coming on, drove into the area on the right. It looked like he was going nowhere, but he managed to clip a cross into the six-yard box, where Welbeck was lurking. Even then, there appeared to be little danger for Sweden, because Welbeck had a defender up his back, was facing away from goal and was on the verge of losing his balance. But somehow he contorted his body into an absurd position, letting the ball run across his body before sticking out his right leg and deftly flicking it beyond Isaksson and into the bottom-left corner with his right heel! A moment of pure genius from Welbeck, rather reminiscent of Ibrahimovic’s ridiculous backflick against Italy in 2004. 3-2 for England.

England have beaten Sweden in a competitive game of football. No, really. Who said Roy Hodgson’s England don’t do excitement? That was one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament so far, full of moments of genius and ineptitude in equal measure. It looked like England had blown it when they found themselves 2-1 behind in the second half, but an inspired comeback, led by Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck, means they are second in the group, behind France only on goal difference.

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