Defender Andreas Granqvist netted a second-half penalty as Sweden kicked off their campaign at the ongoing 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 triumph over South Korea in Group F here at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Monday. "I was pretty sure", Granqvist said of the wait. "We got the penalty and then we were just fighting until the end". Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar initially waved the Swedes away, before being called to consult the Video Assistant Referee system.
However, after a VAR review of the foul on Claesson from Kim, the referee eventually gave the penalty and there was delight from the men in yellow.
South Korea lost their opening match at a World Cup for the first time since 1998.
Sweden and South Korea have faced each other only thrice in global matches.
Though not the most attractive of games, there was a terrific atmosphere in the 42,300-strong crowd at the blue-and-white Nizhny Novgorod stadium next to a cathedral at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers.
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Despite their increasing dominance, Sweden also demonstrated why they have struggled to score goals.Berg, again, and Claesson went close before the end of the half, but it was clear for everyone to see why they had only scored once in their four matches prior to Russian Federation.
Hwang Hee-chan spurned a glorious opportunity late on, heading wide from 10 yards out, as Sweden ultimately held on for a precious three points.
There is a real sense of unity with this team, undistracted by the charisma and overall dominance of Zlatan and coach Janne Andersson has some optimism that the Swedish side he has overhauled since Euro 2016 can upset the odds and make their way to the knock-out rounds.
Sweden now have the chance to all but knock Germany out of the tournament on Saturday, while South Korea face Mexico desperately needing a win to maintain their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages.
Next up for the Swedes is an intriguing encounter against Germany in Sochi on June 23.South Korea started the game brightly, forcing the first corner in the fourth minute, but were gradually forced back by an attritional Swedish side.
Sweden had been accused of spying on a Korea training session ahead of the game.
South Korea's defense is comprised of right back Lee Yong, left back Park Joo-ho and center backs Jang Hyun-soo and Kim Young-gwon.