NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (Reuters) - With wounded world champions Germany up next, Sweden could not have got off to a better start to their World Cup campaign than Monday’s win over South Korea, said coach Janne Andersson after their 1-0 victory at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
“Three points in the bag,” he chortled at the end of the post-match press conference after a 65th-minute penalty, awarded only following a Video Assistant Referee review, secured the win.
“I felt the wait for the VAR was unnecessary. There was no doubt that the penalty should have been called straightaway. Luckily the referee had VAR to help him to be able to make the right decision,” Andersson said at the post-game news conference.
Kim Min-woo brought down Viktor Claesson in the box but Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar initially waved the Swedes away, before being called back to consult and then awarding a spot kick that captain Andreas Granqvist expertly tucked away.
“Today’s match was so much more important to win after Germany lost. But we were focussed on winning the game anyway. The opportunities for us now going forward are so much better,” the coach added.
Sweden meet Germany, who were stunned 1-0 by Mexico on Sunday, in Sochi on Saturday in the second game for both countries in Group F.
The two countries have had some absorbing clashes of late, none more so than a thriller in Berlin six years ago when the Swedes came back to draw after slumping to 4-0 down.
“Germany are the ones faced with a dilemma. We are going to prepare in the best way possible and then we’ll see. We need to dare to do even more.”
Over the next days, Andersson said, Sweden will concentrate on sharper finishing, where they let themselves down on Monday as they dominated against the timid Koreans and should have won by a bigger margin.
“We had this match under control, but I hope next time we’ll be more efficient in front of goal.
“For the first 10 minutes they kept the ball in our half, but after that we got to grips with the match and played very methodically. We also had a few set-piece opportunities. The only thing that was a bit scary was that it was still goalless at halftime,” he said.
“It was a little bit uncomfortable until we had managed to score. I was very pleased that we got the result and very proud with the lads’ performance,” Andersson added.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Hugh Lawson