It seemed that Steven Gerrard had broken the 38 year winless streak against Sweden, however after scoring in the 85th minute, Liverpool's midfielder saw his England team fail to hold on to the lead when Henrik Larsson equalised in the 90th minute of play. Whilst it was disappointing for England not to have broken the winless streak, they did still finish in first place in World Cup Group B, and in doing so will face Ecuador in the second phase of the competition, thus avoiding a match-up with hosts Germany.
While there was celebration at securing first place in the group, it unfortunately came at a price with Michael Owen (80th cap today) getting injured in the first minute of play. The Newcastle United forward fell awkwardly on to the pitch and was substituted in the fourth minute. With Eriksson only taking four strikers to Germany, Rooney only just making a come-back (he started the match), Walcott being inexperienced at the top level, there will be renewed concern regarding the selection made for forwards (and number of strikers). Owen is to undergo a scan to assess the damage to his knee. First impressions are that the injury will rule him out of the remainder of the World Cup. In resting his previously yellow-carded players to protect them from a possible further caution (Gerrard and Crouch) in the event that a further yellow would result in the player sitting out the next game, Eriksson sent out Crouch to replace Owen.
In the 25th minute Rooney collected a long pass from Beckham, but his shot was blocked, which was unfortunate as it would have made a delightful goal. Joe Cole did score an amazing goal in the 34th minute. On the half-volley, Cole hit the ball into Sweden's net from 35 yards. Beautiful!
Five minutes before half-time, Lampard tried his luck with a long-range shot which just-in-so went over the crossbar. Perhaps it was the late kick-off (9pm in Germany) which led to England's revised energy and creativity as opposed to their first two World Cup games, with the temperature being cooler than when the team faced Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago.
Whilst the second half didn't go as England had planned it was exciting none-the-less. Allback equalised on 51 minutes following a corner and thus scored the 2,000th goal in World Cup Finals history. In similar play, England were lucky not to go a goal behind when they were saved by the crossbar and then Robinson managed to save England's blushes. England survived a long period of attacking movement from Sweden. Rooney was substituted in the 69th minute with Gerrard taking to the field. The Manchester United player was clearly frustrated at being replaced.
Having only been on the field for a couple of minutes, Gerrard (replacing Rooney) cleared the ball from England's line. He then got his name on to the scoresheet after latching on to a Joe Cole cross with his head to beat Isaksson. It seemed that England had their first win in 38 years over Sweden with a late goal, but Sweden were not done and managed to equalise again in the 90th minute through Larsson and in doing so sealed themselves a place in the 2nd round against Germany.
Post match note: Owen will be out of action for at least five months after ripping cruciate ligaments in his knee.
Isaksson #1, Lucic #4, Mellberg #3 - captain, Edman #5, Alexandersson #7, Linderoth #6 (Andersson 91+ mins - #19), Kallstrom #16, Ljundberg #9, Jonson #18 (Wilhelmsson 54 mins - #21), Larsson #11, Allback #20 (Elmander 74 mins #17).
Subs Not Used: Alvbage #12, Shaaban #23, Nilsson #2, A Svensson #8, Ibrahimovic #10, Hansson #13, Stenman #14, K Svensson #15, Rosenberg #22.
Robinson #1, Carragher #15, Terry #6, Ferdinand #5 (Campbell 56 mins - #12), A Cole #3, Beckham #7 - captain, Hargreaves #16, Lampard #8, J Cole #11, Rooney #9 (Gerrard 69 mins - #4),
Owen #10 (Crouch 4 mins - #21).
Subs Not Used: James #13, Carson #22, G Neville #2 (injured), Bridge #14, Carrick #18, Jenas #17, Lennon #19, Downing #20, Walcott #23. (Full Squad)
England Goals: J Cole (34 mins), Gerrard (85 mins)
Sweden Goals: Allback (51 mins), Larsson (90 mins)
England Caution: Hargreaves (76 mins)
Sweden Cautions: Alexandersson (83 mins), Ljungberg (87 mins)
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)