EFE – Victor Claesson signed the Swedish victory 1-0 against Georgia through a pass from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who, on his return to the national team five years later, completed a more than correct match.
“Ibra”, who at 39 years surpassed legendary goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli as the oldest footballer to play for Sweden, was participatory, although a different role than he had in the team with which he retired after Euro 2016.
The new Zlatan, who even bears another number (11 for his usual 10), now makes more than nine pure, while Isak is the one who comes down to receive. He only fired twice, a far shot into the clouds with his left and another deflected with his right, none on target.
The Milan striker left a lot of head balls, like a very good one inside the area to Isak, whose left-footed shot deflected Loria. Or that of the goal, a left that Claesson took advantage of with a very good movement.
And he was involved, continually applauding his teammates. He even got a yellow card for protesting.
Georgia, Spain’s next rival, left a good image in the first half. With the lines close together and pressing only at specific moments in the middle of the court, he came out like lightning every time he stole the ball, thanks to the mobility of his attacking front and his speed on the wings.
But he lacked clarity in the final meters to scare Sweden more. And when he had a very clear opportunity, Kvilitaia, who ran alone almost from the middle of the field to stand in front of Nordfeldt, defined very weakly at the goalkeeper’s hands.
The Turkish Gençlerbirliçi goalkeeper was one of the novelties of Andersson’s eleven, who had already announced that he would rotate the players to face three games in a week. Some absences (Olsen, Berg) were forced by physical problems, others (Granqvist, Forsberg and Ekdal), to distribute efforts.
The first Sweden of the new era with “Ibra” was somewhat imprecise and hasty at times, also infected by the high pace with which the first 45 minutes were played, but it also hinted at what it can offer when Kulusevski, Isak and the Swedish giant combine in attack.
Building on their lead on the scoreboard and avoiding the Georgian counters, Sweden took a step back in the second half. He gave the ball to the rival, who without spaces hardly created danger. Closer to the goal was Sweden, especially in the final stretch, although without making Loria work too hard.
Isak, in a forced shot, had the best option for Sweden, who by then was already playing without Ekdal, with his umpteenth muscle injury, which only allowed him to last five minutes on the field.
Shengalia had the equalizer with eight minutes remaining, but Nordfeldt pulled out a remarkable hand that saved Sweden’s triumph and avoided embittering the return of its top star to the national team.
– Data sheet:
1 – Sweden: Nordfeldt; Lustig (Krafth, m.84), Lindelöf, Helander, Augustinsson; Kulusevski, Larsson, Olsson (Ekdal, m.68; Svanberg, m.73), Claesson (Forsberg, m.74); Isak, Ibrahimovic (Quaison, m.84).
0 – Georgia: Loria; Chabradze, Kashia, Dvali, Giorbelidze; Kvekveskiri (Shengelia, m.60), Kankava (Gvilia, m.60); Kavaratshkelia (Kiteishvili, m.46), Aburjania, Lobzhanidze (Beridze, m.78); Kvilitaia (Mikautadze, m.84).