Writer: Chris Mackenzie
Date:Friday June 15 2012
England picked up their first victory of Euro 2012 thanks to goals from Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck in an end to end game in the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev.
Roy Hodgson opted to change things round a little tactically for the Sweden game. Liverpool target man Andy Carroll came into the side in the place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Ashley Young moving onto the wing from the attacking midfield position he occupied in the France match.
Glen Johnson was passed fit despite struggling with a toe problem since the opening game of the tournament. Central midfielders Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard also started the game despite concerns from the England management team during the week that both players were struggling to be at full fitness following the exertions of the France clash.
England Starting X1
Johnson Terry Lescott Cole
Milner Parker Gerrard Young
The Swedish line up had a familiar look to it as several of their starting eleven (Larsson, Elmander, Mellberg, Olsson etc) have played in Britain for a number of years. England started the game quite brightly though and played some neat tidy attacking football in the opening minutes of the contest. Scott Parker had the first chance of the game when he forced Isaksson into a smart stop after some good work from Danny Welbeck.
As the game wore on it became clear that Sweden were playing a 4-4-1-1 formation with their star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic operating just behind former Bolton Wanderers forward Johan Elmander. Ibrahimovic was soon in the thick of the action dropping into midfield in an attempt to influence the game as much as possible.
With 23 minutes played the deadlock was broken when a superb cross from skipper Steven Gerrard was headed home by Andy Carroll. Carroll had peeled off his marker intelligently which allowed him to head home relatively unchallenged. England could have increased their lead minutes later when Ashley Young was presented with a great chance after an accurate through ball from full back Ashley Cole however Young fired well wide when in truth there were others players better placed in front of goal.
Sweden were still creating opportunities on the counter attack though as a Kim Kallstrom's effort went only a few yards over the bar while Ibrahimovic was causing plenty of problems for John Terry and the rest of the Three Lions defence in his withdrawn role.
Neither side opted to make any changes to their shape or personnel at the break and Sweden were rewarded for their patience when Olaf Mellberg scored from a set piece just 3 minutes into the 2nd half. It was an unfortunate goal for England to concede as the ball ricocheted around the penalty box before it came to the former Aston Villa centre half Mellberg who fired home.
Sweden were enjoying the majority of the play and they went into lead on 58 minutes when Mellberg remarkably netted his 2nd goal of the game as he lost his marker to head home into the unguarded left hand side of the net. Ibrahimovic and Joe Hart exchanged words as the Swedes celebrated taking the lead.
Roy Hodgson immediately changed things round sending Theo Walcott on for James Milner in an attempt to add more pace and guile to England's offensive efforts. Sweden almost made it 3-1 when Ibrahimovic got a powerful shot away even though he was under strong pressure from the England defence.
The game changed once more on the 64 minute mark when sub Theo Walcott found the back of the net from the outside of the box as his effort wrong footed Isaksson in the Swedish goal. Sweden still looked capable of winning the game though as Ibrahimovic skipped past Gerrard on a marauding run however his charge came to an end when he was blocked on the edge of the area.
The game was extremely stretched at this point as both sides were looking to take the 3 points on offer. On 74 minutes Martin Olsson stormed forward and found Kim Kallstrom who fired over when well placed. Kallstrom was made to pay for that miss when Danny Welbeck put England ahead 3 minutes later when he diverted the ball past the Swedish keeper despite having his back to goal after a nice cross into the box by Walcott.
Sweden needed at least a point from this game to keep their Euro 2012 hopes alive and they threw men forward in an effort to find the equalising goal however this left many gaps in their defence for England to exploit and Gerrard and Oxlade-Chamberlain both could have scored in the dying minutes of the contest. In the end that was not to matter as England were more than happy with a 3-2 victory after being a goal behind with just over 30 minutes left to play.
Written by Chris Mackenzie.
The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital England Site Journalists.
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Date:Friday June 15 2012
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