Nainggolan seals Belgium’s spot – Sweden v Belgium EURO 2016

Group E

Sweden 0-1 Belgium

Belgium secured their place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 with a 1-0 win over Sweden in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s final game for his country. Radja Nainggolan drilled home via a deflection off Erkan Zengin with six minutes to play to confirm Belgium’s progress and eliminate Sweden, who exit the competition with one point from three matches.Romelu Lukaku and Ibrahimovic each had strikes ruled out before Nainggolan’s winner, while Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson kept his side in the game with a string of impressive second-half saves.

Victory for Belgium in Nice on Wednesday means they finish Group E second to Italy, and will face Hungary in the last 16 in Toulouse on Sunday.

Each side made a single change from their previous group matches, with Marcus Berg in for Sweden and Nainggolan returning for Belgium. Having waited 184 minutes for a shot on target at the tournament, Sweden squandered the first opportunity of the match when Berg fired straight at Thibaut Courtois, but both teams looked dangerous in an absorbing first half.In a passage of play that was typical of the end-to-end action, Kevin De Bruyne tested Iskasson with a curling effort before Sweden countered and Ibrahimovic struck narrowly past Courtois’ far post.On the stroke of half-time Belgium went close again, Thomas Meunier glancing a header wide, but Sweden started the second half on the front foot, and only a poor touch from Berg prevented the striker from testing Courtois.Requiring a win to progress, Sweden had the ball in the net just after the hour mark, but Ibrahimovic’s fine volley was ruled out for a high foot by Berg in the build-up.

Zlatan bows out.
Zlatan bows out.

The game continued to ebb back and forth and Sweden had Isaksson to thank after smart stops to keep out De Bruyne and Lukaku, who had broken through one-on-one only to be thwarted by a sprawling save.The Everton man finished neatly moments later, but the assistant referee’s flag denied him his third goal of the tournament.In three-minute spell that would ultimately condemn Sweden, De Bruyne’s goal-line clearance preserved Courtois’ clean sheet – his 20th in 40 caps – before Nainggolan struck at the other end to seal the win.Eden Hazard broke free down the left and pulled the ball back for the midfielder, whose firm shot flicked off Zengin and past Isaksson.Marc Wilmots’ side threatened to inflict further damage as substitute Christian Benteke forced another fine save from the Sweden ‘keeper, but in the end they settled for progress. Elimination marks the end of the international road for Ibrahimovic, who confirmed before the game he intends to retire from Sweden duty once knocked out.

Nainggolan celebrates his powerful strike.
Nainggolan celebrates his powerful strike.

Man of the Match – Eden Hazard (Belgium)

Substitutions:

Sweden

  • John Guidetti replaces Marcus Berg 63 mins
  • Jimmy Durmaz replaces Sebastian Larsson 70 mins
  • Erkan Zengin replaces Emil Forsberg 82 mins

Belgium 

  • Dries Mertens replaces Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco 71 mins
  • Christian Benteke replaces Romelu Lukaku 87 mins
  • Divock Origi replaces Eden Hazard 90+ mins

Yellow cards:

Sweden – Albin Ekdal,Erik Johansson.

Belgium –  Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel.

 

 

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