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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Euro 2008: Sweden Defeated Defending Champion Greece 2-0 in their Opening Match

Sweden got off to a good start with a 2-0 victory over defending champion Greece today thanks to two second half goals. Ibrahimovich and Hansson secured three points for Sweden from the match scoring two goals in five minutes during the second half of the match. Both sides created a number of chances but Greece lacked quality finish to make the best use of the chances, while Sweden scored twice to make the difference in the match. However, it is also true that Sweden played better than Greece in the match.

The first half was very enjoyable with both sides creating a number of clear chances but unfortunately the first half remained goalless. It was full of attacking and counter attacking. Swedish striker Ibrahimovic missed at least two easy chances; once he headed over Greece goal keeper Nikopolidis, but also over the bar. Swedish keeper Isaksson denied Greek Captain Basinas by blocking his long range shot diving to his left. Besides these chances, both sides created a number of other chances, but all of those chances were not capitalized fully. So, first half ended up goal less.

The second half was also full of attack and counter-attacks. Both sides just went for attack- thus leaving some rooms to the opposition strikers to come in and attack. However, the first fruitful attack of the second half came for Sweden in the 48th minute when striker Larsen’s shot over Greek goal keeper Nikopolidis went off target. Greece got a clear chance in the 62nd minute, but Karagounis was not given any room to shot at goal properly in what could have been lethal for Sweden. Just five minutes later, Sweden’s Inter Milan striker Ibrahimovich opened scoring for Sweden in an excellent attempt. The striker took a powerful shot from just outside the penalty box, sending the ball past Greek goal keeper into the far post. This is the first international goal for Ibrahimovich in three years. After 72 minutes, Sweden got their second goal thanks to Hansson. However, Ljungberg was the origin of the goal. After receiving a pass from the back, Ljungberg made a powerful shot at goal that was saved by Greek goal keeper but the keeper could not grip it. Hansson got the control of the ball after receiving an unexpected push from Seitardis, who in stead of clearing the ball, could only push the ball ahead. Hansson successfully sent the ball into the left corner of net to secure the second goal for Sweden in the match.

Greece was not ready for two back to back goals. However, they tried their best to come back in the match, but could not put up anything threatening for the Swedish defense. Greece got the last chance of the match when Torosidis went into the Sweden penalty box through the left wing, but failed to provide a successful pass in the box as his shot directly reached to Isaksson. Actually, Greece also created a number of good chances, but due to lack of execution, Greece failed to capitalize on the chances.

It would now be very tough for Greece to get into the next round of Euro 2008. Greece is the defending champion in the tournament. So, anything less than reaching quarter final would be considered as a failure for the Greek side. Greece will play their next match against Russia and then in the last group match Greece will face Spain. For Sweden, this victory would boost up their confidence ahead of their next match against Spain. After winning the respective opening matches in Euro 2008, Spain and Sweden have gone a bit closure to secure quarter final berth in Euro 2008 tournament.

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