Sweden. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
SWEDEN moved out of the frying pan and into the last eight here yesterday, ending Saudi Arabia's exciting contribution to their first finals thanks to the striking prowess of two players who might have been plying their trade in the Premiership next season.
Kennet Andersson, the gangling centre-forward on whom Crystal Palace have had designs, confirmed the favourable impression he made when scoring against Brazil with a further two goals. His foil, Martin Dahlin, who turned down a move to Everton last week, collected his fourth goal of the tournament. The Swedes, who last reached the quarter-finals during their run to the final in 1958, now meet Romania at Palo Alto on Sunday. One of only four unbeaten teams left in the competition, they have developed a momentum which will not easily be slowed.
Saudi Arabia, who conceded goals early in either half, looked set to test Swedish stamina in temperatures of over 100F when they reduced the arrears six five minutes from time. Instead, Sweden maintained their composure and swept upfield to tie up a deserved victory.
Dahlin marked his return from a one-match suspension by scoring after five minutes. Aerial weakness cost the Saudis a draw in their opening game against the Dutch, and they were again found wanting as Andersson floated in a cross from the left. Dahlin peeled off his marker to give Mohammed Al Deayea no chance with his third headed goal in successive appearances.
Sweden had opportunities to increase the lead before Fahad Al Bishi volleyed narrowly wide in the 22nd minute. Saudi Arabia made any number of promising runs, but the Swedish back-four generally had the know-how and tackling strength to pick off their pacy but slightly-built opponents.
There appeared no way back for the Saudis, though, when Andersson struck five minutes after the interval. Deftly bringing down a lofted pass from Stefan Schwarz, he exploited Ahmed Madani's reluctance to commit himself to a challenge by veering to his left and beating Al Deayea with a low drive from 20 yards.
Dahlin was in an offside position, yet to their credit the Saudis did not protest, concentrating instead on trying to retrieve the game. The two substitutes, Khalid Al Muwallid and Fahad Al Ghashayan, gave them fresh impetus, the latter scoring one of the tournament's most thrilling goals when he went outside Pontus Kamark before cutting back inside and lashing the ball high past Thomas Ravelli.
Dahlin and Andersson quickly put paid to Saudi hopes of forcing extra-time. A neat lay-off gave Andersson an opening which he accepted clinically from 15 yards, the ball going across Al Deayea and entering the net off an upright.
'We knew before the match that it was going to be a very difficult task for us,' Sweden's coach, Tommy Svensson, said. 'I don't think other teams have been so serious about Saudi Arabia as we have.
'Defence is the key to success and ours was very good. We have a good back four and players like Schwarz and Thern who contain the midfield. That makes us very difficult to play.'
Saudi Arabia's Argentine, coach, Jorge Solari, said: 'Tactically we tried to make a simple plan - there was no time and it was necessary to play in the same way the team played in their first-round matches. We are really happy, though, because we feel our team is at the initial stage in professional game.'
While the Swedes pack their bags for a quarter-final in California, the Saudi players are left with the consolation of a car apiece, donated by a wealthy supporter. The model in question? A Swedish Volvo.
SAUDI ARABIA (4-4-2): Al Deayea (Al Tai); Zebermawi (Al Ahli), Madani, Al Khilawi (both Al Ittihad), Al Jawad (Al Ahli); Amin (Al Hilal), Al Bishi (Al Nasr), Owairan (Al Shabab), Saleh (Al Ahli); Al Jaber (Al Hilal), Falatah (Al Ohud). Substitutes: Al Ghashayan (Al Hilal) for Al Jawad, 55; Al Muwallid (Al Ahli) for Al Bishi, 63.
SWEDEN (4-4-2): Ravelli (IFK Gothenburg); R Nilsson (Helsingborg), P Andersson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Bjorklund (IFK Gothenburg), Ljung (Galatasaray); Brolin (Parma), Thern (Napoli), Schwarz (Arsenal), Ingesson (PSV Eindhoven); Dahlin (Borussia Monchengladbach), K Andersson (Lille). Substitutes: Kamark (IFK Gothenburg) for Bjorklund, 55; Mild (Servette) for Thern, 70.
Referee: R Marsiglia (Brazil).
World Cup, pages 28, 29
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