Two sparks gave Sweden the triumph against Greecemuch superior in the first part, and the leadership of group B, in which now leads Spain by two points in the absence of so many other days and to visit La Cartuja.
Sweden, who pulled off a miraculous goalless draw before the break, were deadly in the second half, scoring twice in ten minutes: a penalty from Forsberg and a good action from Isak. Before, Greece had planted two balls in the posts, like the Nordics a month ago in Athens, where they fell 2-1.
Eight straight home victories in World Cup qualifying matches have signed Sweden so far, while Greece have lost just one of the last twelve such outings.
Although they played at the Friends Arena, Sweden stifled Greece from the start: an orderly and seasoned team, well coached by John Van’t Schip, who conceded no chances in the first part and had to enter the front break on the scoreboard.
The Dutch coach kept the defense at five despite losing Tzavellas, placing Tsimikas as third centre-back and Giannoulis as corridor. A priori, he gave up one of his best weapons in attack and that had created many problems for Sweden in Athens.
But it went well. Almost all of the Greek danger went through this band in the first half, with the falls of Masouras, a headache for the Swedish defense, especially for Krafth.
Masouras gave the warning after two minutes, scored offside shortly after and smashed one-on-one against Olsen against the post in the 21st. Before the break he had time to take another shot and d hooking a cross that Pavlidis headed towards the crossbar.
Greece gave up the ball most of the time, rushing every time they got it back, but they also knew how to push high sometimes and revealed Sweden’s struggles to create play when they didn’t have space .
Only a detail from Forsberg encouraged the home crowd, worried about the lack of spark of his team, clearly outclassed.
Sweden didn’t improve much with the break, although at least they cut off the escape of Greek counterattacks. Quaison, who replaced the suspended Kulusevski, took a whiplash that Vlachodimos cleared. It was the first local opportunity, in the 56th minute.
But Mavropanos, blameless until then, committed a tough penalty by eliminating Isak, who had snatched the race from him by chasing a long ball from Lindelöf. Forsberg did not spare.
Greece continues to attack a Sweden stuck behind, although without danger. And the team of “Janne” Andersson scored again in a game as simple as it was effective: a long service from Olsen which ate the Greek defense and in which Isak shone again, who had just scored a superb goal against the Kosovo.
The Real Sociedad striker played softly to avoid Vlachodimos then shot coolly to wait for Mavropanos to win and finish with his left foot.
This is where the game and Greece’s options to be first in the group died, a position that everything indicates Sweden and Spain will play in a month in Seville.
2 – Sweden: Olsen; Krafth, Danielsson, Lindelof, Augustinsson; Claesson (Svanberg, m.81), Olsson, Ekdal (Cfit, m.81), Forsberg (Olsson, m.87); Quaison (Gyökeres, d.87), Isak.
0 – Greece: Vlachodimos; Androutsos, Hatzidiakos, Mavropanos, Tsimikas, Giannoulis (Limnios, d.84); Siopis (Pelkas, m.71), Bouchalakis, Bakasetas; Masouras (Tzola, m.71), Pavlidis (Douvikas, m.76).
Goals: 1-0, m.59: Forsberg (penalty); 2-0, m.69: Isaac.
Arbitrator: Tobias Stieler (Germany). He expelled the Greek Hatzidiakos (m.76, 86) for a double yellow card. He shot yellow, for Sweden, at Ekdal (m.61), Svanberg (m.90); for Greece, at Mavropanos (m.58), Bakasetas (m.61).
Incidents: European qualification group B match for the Qatar 2022 World Cup played at the Friends Arena (Solna, Stockholm) in front of 48,000 spectators.