Sweden show off Euro 2022 credentials by thrashing Portugal to reach last eight

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Filippa Angeldal of Sweden celebrates after scoring their second goal (Getty Images)
Filippa Angeldal of Sweden celebrates after scoring their second goal (Getty Images)

There are reasons why Sweden are ranked second in the world, and first among European teams. If some had not been apparent during their underwhelming start to Euro 2022, they dispatched Portugal clinically, five goals securing top spot in Group C and what looks an easier route deep into the tournament. They took the pragmatic route to progress. Set-pieces are a traditional strength of theirs and an area where Portugal have been found horribly lacking. The Swedes had not struck from dead-ball situations in their first two games. They had four within an hour, two from corners, to decide the game. Their manager, Peter Gerhardsson, had been frank in saying they could play better. A 5-0 win represented a sizeable step in the right direction.

In seeing off Portugal, Sweden got the better of the Netherlands to avoid France. It means they win Group C and their reward, rather than a date with the impressive French, is a meeting with the runners-up in Group D in Leigh on Friday. They will be the favourites to reach the semi-finals. As it is, they maintained their immaculate record at European Championships. They have reached at least the quarter-finals in each of the 11 they have played in and their progress was rarely in doubt.

Portugal had been watched by three Manchester City players, in Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias, against the Netherlands. They conceded twice to another, with Filippa Angeldal scoring the first two goals. The starring role, however, came from the former City player, and new signing for AC Milan, Kosovare Asllani. Her goal came from the penalty spot, after Diana Gomes handled, but she was irrepressible and inventive throughout. She produced the game’s classiest moment, with a defence-splitting backheel for Stina Blackstenius to finish with a flourish. Sadly for Sweden and her supplier alike, the Arsenal forward was offside.

Instead, Sweden found altogether less memorable ways of scoring. Portugal had contributed much to their first two games, mounting a comeback from 2-0 down in each, but there was no hat-trick and this was a limp way to depart the competition. Their inability to defend corners proved their achilles heel. They compounded their own problems by switching goalkeeper and Patricio Morais was horribly culpable for two goals. They depart having conceded seven goals from set-pieces alone, a statistic that explains their early exit.

While Morais initially impressed, making a point-blank block from Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, she proved incapable of dealing with Jonna Andersson’s in-swinging corners. When she spilled one, Angeldal capitalised to drill Sweden into the lead. When, on the stroke of half-time, she flapped at another, Portugal’s Carole Costa was luckless as she unwittingly got the final touch. At least the second goal was not Morais’ fault, with Portugal caught out by Asllani’s clever free kick and Angeldal swept in a shot from the edge of the box

In Morais’ defence, she at least made fine saves from Blackstenius and Rytting Kaneryd in a second-half damage-limitation exercise. Blackstenius had a second goal ruled out, with a header chalked off after another of the tournament’s needlessly lengthy VAR reviews, but belatedly got a reward for her persistence when she found the top corner in injury time. She certainly merited a place on the scoresheet.

Portugal, however, could reflect on the first few minutes and wonder if it might have been different. In a game of goalkeeping errors from corners, Hedvig Lindahl failed to gather and Costa swivelled and shot but wide. It proved her side’s best chance and, instead of getting a goal, she finished with an own goal. It rather summed up the way it was a game too far for Portugal. There may yet be three more for Sweden.