Swedish joy erupts as World Cup spot se­cured

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MI­LAN: Swe­den’s play­ers jumped for joy at the fi­nal whis­tle in Mi­lan af­ter Jan An­der­s­son’s side hung on for a fa­mous 0-0 draw against four-times cham­pi­ons Italy on Mon­day that se­cured a place at next year’s World Cup fi­nals in Rus­sia.

Jakob Jo­hans­son’s de­flected strike in Stock­holm was the only goal over the two legs of the Euro­pean play­off, mean­ing Italy miss out on the World Cup for the first time since the

Swedes hosted the tour­na­ment in

1958 and fin­ished as run­ners-up.

As An­der­s­son was be­ing in­ter­viewed by Swedish tele­vi­sion, his play­ers in­vaded the pitch-side stu­dio, crush­ing the desk in front of the broad­cast­ers as they danced with joy.

“I cried a few tears,” An­der­s­son said af­ter his play­ers had left to con­tinue their cel­e­bra­tions on the pitch. It was the first time Swe­den had reached the fi­nals since 2006.

“Look at some of the older play­ers who felt that this was the last chance to make it to a World Cup — and now we did it. It’s in­de­scrib­able,” he added.

A key fig­ure in the mam­moth de­fen­sive ef­fort that de­liv­ered the draw they needed was Swe­den cap­tain An­dreas Gran­qvist, who fell to the ground in tears as the ref­eree ended the game.

“For my part, this is the big­gest thing that has hap­pened to me and for those of us that are older this is prob­a­bly the last chance to play at a World Cup so to suc­ceed in those cir­cum­stances is an un­be­liev­able joy,” the 32-year-old said.

Shortly after­wards, he was seen sport­ing a brand new hair­cut due to a prom­ise made ear­lier in the cam­paign.

“I said to the lads in the dress­ing room that if we got to the World Cup they could shave it off. I thought they’d for­got­ten it, but John (Guidetti) and Vigge (Vic­tor) Lin­de­lof shaved it off straight away,” Gran­qvist

Look at some of the older play­ers who felt that this was the last chance to make it to a World Cup — and now we did it. It’s in­de­scrib­able.

said.

Af­ter the dis­ap­pointed Ital­ian fans had left the San Siro sta­dium, the Swedes stayed on and sang as the play­ers con­tin­ued their vic­tory jig, savour­ing one of their great­est nights.

Swe­den may have sur­prised the pun­dits but striker Mar­cus Berg said they be­lieved all along that they could make it.

“I’m so damn proud of us,” he told Swedish tele­vi­sion. Reuters

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