Éder’s tremendous solo effort with two minutes to go sent Italy into the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 on the back of a second Group E win.
After a quiet first half, Italy pushed forward, and Alessandro Florenzi and Antonio Candreva had more joy down the flanks. Simone Zaza and Thiago Motta were also brought on and although Sweden never let the Azzurri control matters as they had done in beating Belgium, Marco Parolo rattled the crossbar with a late header and then Éder cut in from the left, outwitting several defenders before his decisive finish.
Compared with their 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland, Swedish coach Erik Hamrén went with John Guidetti in attack a year after his goal against Italy at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The striker’s name was continually chanted by the Sweden fans, outnumbering the Azzurri in the Stadium de Toulouse.
Guidetti and Zlatan Ibrahimović helped Sweden have the better of the opening period but without really carving out chances. Indeed, they are yet to register a shot on target in these finals and must put that right if they are to overcome Belgium on Wednesday to stay in the tournament.
Man of the match: Éder (Italy)
Timing is everything, and what is surely the goal of the 29-year-old’s career – cool and classy – showed that in abundance. The strike, supplemented by the two opportunities he created for team-mates, capped a lively showing by the front man who duly climbed 135 places to 98th in the Player Barometer.
Italy have the defence of champions
Despite Sweden’s possession, it was nigh-on impossible for them to break through as Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli put on an Italian defensive display any of their Azzurri predecessors would have been proud of. Nor was there room for half-chances, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon gobbling up any loose balls.
Where are Sweden’s goal coming from?
Gifted an own goal by Ireland, Sweden have been unable to turn possession into openings both on matchday one and today. Ibrahimović was always probing yet seems to have to be Sweden’s creative hub as well as main finisher, something Italy could handle quite comfortably. The look of pure frustration on Ibrahimović’s face as he rested his head on the post after missing an open goal (though he was offside) said it all.