Aaaaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaaaahhhhh! Welcome to our liveblog coverage of Euro 2012, Group D, Round 2. England versus Sweden. Zlatan vs. England’s Brave Racist John Terry. Andy Carroll versus Olof Mellberg. One of those matchups is not like the other. But I digress.
So yes, talk is that Roy Hodgson will attempt a Welbeck/Carroll partnership today in an effort to pump more balls into the box and go for the headed goals that sunk the Swedes in their first round clash with hosts Ukraine. Carroll replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Ashley Young shifting out left.
Sweden will start Johan Elmander over Markus Rosenberg, as the former created more chances in 20 minutes than the latter in 70. Erik Hamren will also likely be showing his team the coaching photos that Swedish supporters pulled together following Mikael Lustig’s post-defending on Sheva’s second goal. Lustig and Ola Toivonen have also been dropped from the Swedish lineup, with Jonas Olsson and Anders Svensson replacing them.
I’m once again coming to you from the Queen Vic in Northeast DC. If you’re there and you see someone sitting at the bar typing away, come up and say hi!
Lineups, commentary and other folderol after the jump!
ENGLAND (4-4-2): Joe Hart; Ashley Cole, Joleon Lescott, EBRJT, Glen Johnson; Ashley Young, Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard (C), James Milner; Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll
SWEDEN (4-2-3-1): Andreas Isaksson; Andreas Granqvist, Olof Mellberg, Jonas Olsson, Martin Olsson; Karl Svensson, Kim Kallstrom; Sebastian Larsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C), Rasmus Elm; Johan Elmander.
REFEREE: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
PREGAME: We’re delayed 15 minutes thanks to the Donetsk Apocalypse, so stick with SA for the thrilling conclusion to France’s evisceration of the hosts.
Andy Carroll warms up, to the delight of absolutely no one in the pub.
Meanwhile, we’re debating. Who’s behind the New America 16 videos- Nostradamus, or Matthew Lesko?
Tunnel time! Stevie G with all the focus of a sugar-addled child, while Zlatan can gaze only forward, stoically.
Also, the Scott Parker is chatting merrily with the mascot child who handed him his prematch fluids. Touching stuff from the RAF Flying Ace.
Anthems: Everyone from England singing loudly and proudly. James Milner looks the most like he’s reporting to work in a mine.
For Sweden: We get Abba in the pub, but that somehow makes Mellberg look MORE menacing.
PEEEP PEEEEEEEP! And Sweden get us going!
1′: Sweden with the first foul of the game after some congestion just ahead of their final third. And Carroll gets blown up the other way.
2′: Joe Hart impressively chases the ball down to head out for a throw deep in the England half.
3′: Ball’s been bogged down for a round of throws deep in England’s half.
4′: After Ashley Young spins it down the channel for Welbeck, the ball ends up at the feet of Flyin’ Scott Parker, who pings a ball through for Isaksson’s first touch of the match. Bit of feeling out from both sides, almost like two boxers in the early rounds.
6′: James Milner with some lovely work to start an England move around the Swedish area, but the Three Lions’ attempts to Arsenal the ball into the net lead to a turnover around midfield.
7′: CHANCE! RAF Airman Scott Parker with a THUMP from 25. Isaksson can only knock it away, and the Swedish backline takes care of the rest.
9′: England starting to boss both possession AND position, but just as I type that, Sweden starts a break. Cole heads a cross from Zlatan (from about 30) back to Hart.
10′: Some chippy stuff, and Mellberg takes down Carroll for a foul at midfield to quash and England break.
11′: Larsson hits a speculative shot right into Hart’s midsection, and England are back on the break.
12′: An England attack peters out with Ashley Cole losing the ball around the corner of the area.
14′: Some silky passing from Sweden just outside the final third. Martin Olsson finally gets purchase on the left flank, but his cross is blocked out for a throw.
15′: Sweden almost hit a dangerous ball over the top to Elmander, but the former Bolton man is offside. Milner back the other end with a tasty cross to Welbeck, who heads wide.
16′: Bit of a bogged down minute, with both teams trading possession in midfield.
17′: Larsson picks out Zlatan with a cross to just outside the area, but Glen Johnson (I KNOW!) anticipates the big man’s touch, and shepherds the ball back to Hart.
19′: Zlatan has a break, but has to slow down with no help, and his pass to the onrushing Larsson is simply not enough.
20′: Zlatan with a daisy-cutter from range, but Hart gets down to it near his right-hand post.
21′: Ibra gets to the ball on the right, but EBRJT cuts out his cross attempt.
22′: Milner and Young’s cross attempts from the right are both cut out, the second cross headed out to Welbeck who screws his long range half-volley out for a throw.
23′: GOAL ENGLAND! CARROLL! Gerrard with a speculative cross from about thirty yards out. Carroll ghosts in front of Granqvist from the left channel, and gets head to ball from the penalty spot. Isaksson really had no chance.
26′: Sweden responding well; Olsson’s shot from outside the area is blocked for a throw.
27′: Sweden with a spell of possession in England’s half, but it comes to nothing. England now taking a minute to slow things down and pass the ball around.
28′: Dangerous run from Milner, but his drag back is intercepted by Kallstrom for an easy clearance.
30′-34′: Ibra and England trade some chances while I shout at WordPress.
35: Chance: Ashley Cole plays Young in down the left channel. Young’s shot goes just wide of the near post.
38′: Sweden work a chance, but Kallstron hits over.
40: Ibra with a drag back for Kallstrom, but his shot is wide.
41′: Nice exchange from Sweden, but Larsson’s through header is pounced on by Hart before Elmander can get to it. Down the other end, Mellberg fouls Carroll.
42′: Milner’s deep cross to the far post goes just over everyone.
43′: After some nice work by Zlatan is cut out, Cole releases Welbeck for a break, but Mellberg is equal to his run, and steps in before Welbeck can take his shot.
45+1: Sweden try one last route one attack, but Elmander’s touch gets the ball right to Hart’s feet. And we’re at. . .
HALF TIME: Sweden 0-1 England. As the teams walk off, we’re treated to an extended shot of Andy Carroll taking out his pony tail and shaking his hair free. It is NOT a great thing to look at. Zlatan is suffering from Rooney Syndrome, circa 2009. He’s so intent on setting everyone else up that he’s playing too deep to do what he does best: score ridiculous goals. If Sweden want a chance at coming back, they need to move Zlatan up, and maybe bring Toivonen on to play the wing, with Elm or Kallstrom behind Ibrahimovic, because the current setup is not working as well as it did in qualifying.
England, meanwhile, will do well to tighten up, as a more clinical team would have fried them on certain moves. That said, they’ve also created some good chances through the 45 that could have them two or three up. Should be a good second half, with Sweden playing for tournament survival.
And we’re off! England to kick off, with no changes to either side, save a new ponytail for Carroll.
46′: Both teams opening cagily, with Parker’s attempt at a cutting pass cut out, and Sweden then happy to slow possession.
47′: Back at the English end, Sweden with two attempt to crack the English defense cut out easily.
48′: Swedish possession around the area ends up with Andy Carroll getting a stern talking to after he hacks down Kallstrom.
49′: GOAL! 1-1! MELLBERG! Zlatan’s freekick from beyond the D is blocked by the English Wall. The ball slips to Mellberg, whose shot is initally cleared off the line by Glen Johnson, but the Liverpool man can only knock the ball into himself, and into the net. Well done by Sweden, LOLtastic by England. Game on.
52′: A few minutes of possession-trading, as England look a little discombobulated by the goal.
53′: Kallstrom with a double block.
54′: A searching longball from Gerrard earns an English throw deep. The Swedes win a defensive freekick for handball, committed by the RAF man.
55′: Carroll meekly heads to Isaksson after a Glen Johnson cross is deflected toward him.
56′: CHANCE! Kallstrom slips in Rasmus Elm, but Glen Johnson with a last minute lunge denies the ball from the winger before he can shoot.
58′: Sweden have been in the ascendancy since the goal. Martin Olsson is fouled on the break by Milner, who collects a yellow card for his trouble.
59′: GOAL! SVERIGE! MELLBERG! 2-1!!!!!!! Larsson’s curling freekick goes deep into the area, and Mellberg leaps over all to head home from about 7 yards out. What a delivery, what a header, and Sweden ain’t done yet.
60′: Young gets the ball out left on the break, but Jonas Olsson cuts his cross out for an English corner. Granqvist gets treatment. England change: Walcott on, Milner off.
61′: The corner is scrambled out to Johnson, whose shot is blocked. Sweden start the break, but Johnson gets back in time to put off Zlatan, who can only pop into Hart’s hands.
63′: Mellberg gets booked for cutting down Parker.
64′: WHAT A SAVE. Terry gets a free header from 6; and Isaksson gets there!
64′: GOAL! ENGLAND! WALCOTT 2-2! The corner is headed out to Walcott, who shoots over the onrushing Swedish defenders and completely wrong-foots Isaksson, who can only marvel.
66′: Sweden change: Lustig on, Granqvist off.
67′: Sweden cut out a few attempts to break into the area, one of which could have been a foul at the D.
68′: Mellberg cuts out an English break, cutting down Welbeck as he gets to Carroll’s pass.
70′: Sweden starting now to recover; they’ve had some good possession near the England area, but can’t break through. Carroll now on the break fires narrowly over.
71′: Sweden earn a corner thanks to the fifth officials.
72′: Hart easily claims Kallstrom’s delivery. Jonas Olsson is then booked for crashing into Hart as he punts.
73′: Kallstrom hacks Young down around 25 yards out. Young, Gerrard and Parker stand over. And Young blazes over.
74′: Martin Olsson with lovely work down the left to get into the England box, but Kallstrom blazes over from about 12.
76′: Joe Hart tips Zlatan’s drive from range wide for a corner after Martin Olsson springs the break. Hart punches clear.
78′: GOAL! WELBECK! 3-2!!!! Walcott ghosts into the area with the ball. He crosses low, and Welbeck, who checked his run, tips it in WITH HIS BACK TO GOAL at the edge of the six. Shades of Bergkamp’s famous turn against Newcastle. THAT’s the goal of the tournament. Has to be.
80′: Swedish change: Elmander off, Rosenberg on.
81′: Swedish change: Wilhelmsson on, Elm off. My keyboard in pain.
82′: Welbeck and Walcott spring a break with Carroll. The onrushing Parker gets the shot, but fires it out of the Olympic Stadium and halfway across Ukraine.
English change: Walcott off with a knock, Oxlade-Chamberlain on. Theo soldiers on.
84′: Svensson hacks down Ashley Cole.
85′: After England fail to clear, Rosenberg’s miscontrol grants them the space to do so. Kallstrom then hits a crossfield pass right to Hart.
86′: Lescott fouls Rosenberg down the right channel. Kallstrom to take. . . and it’s headed away.
88′: Sweden win a corner on the right. Hart claws it away and Sweden reset back to Isaksson.
89′: England change: Welbeck off after his incredible strike, and NOW the Ox is on.
90′: Svensson in the books for a high challenge. Gerrard crushes the FK over from 25.
90′ + 2: Sweden throwing everything down the right, earning a succession of throws. AND WHAT A SAVE!!!! England break through Walcott, who chips across to Gerrard. The captain’s jumping volley is right at Isaksson, who stays big and palms away.
90′ + 3: Sweden attempt the break, but hit it out for a throw down the left.
90′ + 4: Larsson gets a cross in, but Kallstrom’s header is off balance and over the bar.
FULL TIME Sweden 2-3 England What a game. The second half was end-to-end stuff, and the Swedes battled, but touches of absolute class from Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck proved to be too much to bear. Walcott coming on changed the game England’s way, and gave them outlets on either side of the pitch. His pace, in particular, proved to be too much for the Olssons to match (though Martin was impressive down the attacking end. And on that, the Swedes are out, and England go into their matchup against the hosts knowing that they advance with a draw or win.
Thank you all for joining me. That was one hell of a match, and I enjoyed every second of recounting it to you.