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Sweden hold Italy in 1st leg of World Cup showdown

IANS  |  Stockholm 

surprised 1-0 here in the first leg of their Round 2 qualifier to determine which side will go to for the 2018 World Cup.

The four-time world champions were flat against an energetic Swedish side who disrupted the Azzurri attack with an aggressive high press on Friday, reports Efe.

Ola Toivonen set the tone for the hosts in the 2nd minute with an elbow to Leonardo Bonucci, signaling Sweden's intention to exert pressure on a somewhat shaky Italian defense.

Center-back Giorgio Chiellini struggled to play the ball out, creating chances for the Swedes and hampering Italy's attack, led Friday by Andrea Belotti in the absence of the injured Simone Zaza.

Belotti had the visitors' only opportunity of the first half, but his header off a great cross by Matteo Darmian missed the target with Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen out of position.

started the second half in a lower gear and seized the initiative on offense, with Antonio Candreva forcing a save from Olsen.

What turned out to be the winning goal came in the 61st minute, when Toivonen won the ball after a throw-in and served it up for Jakob Johansson, whose shot deflected off Daniele De Rossi and past Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Darmian looked set to bring level, but his effort hit the post and managed to hang on for the upset.

The second leg will be played Monday in Milan.

--IANS

sam/vm

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, November 11 2017. 13:30 IST
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