Romania. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
aet; Sweden win 5-4 on penalties
SWEDEN reached the semi-finals of the World Cup for the second time in their history when they put out Romania in a penalty shoot-out that went to sudden death. Going out in this way for the second World Cup in succession when Miodrag Belodedici's kick was saved by Thomas Ravelli, their agony was compounded having equalised at the end of normal time and then losing the lead in the extra period.
Gheorghe Hagi had been such an influential figure that there was a case for giving him special treatment but Sweden chose to deal with the problem collectively leaving him to the nearest man.
If there was a degree of risk involved in this policy it enabled them to keep their normal shape and mount some serious attacks in the early part of the match. They were led in these assaults by Kennet Andersson whose craggy frame and strength on the ball gave the Romanians plenty to think about. Before they could settle into a familiar rhythm, seeking security in the numbers they get behind the ball, their goal almost fell when Martin Dahlin sent in a powerful diving header that rebounded from Florin Prunea's left-hand post.
Andersson continued to be a threat, shouldering aside the Romanian centre-back and causing a great deal of anxiety with a touch suprising for such a big man. With more pace he would have been an even bigger problem.
Unable to settle, especially when trying to get their own attackers going, Romania looked extremely nervous and a hurried back-pass caused Prunea a great deal of anxiety as he came out to clear the ball from an advancing Swede with his feet.
The Swedes were not particular in going about the task of keeping Hagi quiet and the first yellow card appeared when Klas Ingesson brought the little man down. The subsequent free-kick came to nothing and the combination between Hagi and Ilie Dumitrescu, a decisive element in Romania's earlier games had yet to be effective.
Andersson continued to make inroads and Sweden continually threatened with the moves they developed down the left side of Romania's defence. With more sharpness in front of goal they might have taken the lead inside the first 20 minutes and even added to it.
Arsenal's new-signing Stefan Schwarz blasted a free-kick over the bar and what developed into a tactical battle did not suit the taste of a predominantly American audience. Their gathering boredom was evident in the tiresome Mexican wave and when Romania passed the ball around among themselves in their own half booing broke out.
To be fair to Sweden, they were the more progressive outfit and Daniel Prodan made a timely interception clearing with a diving header when Schwarz drove the ball in from the left.
Hagi spoiled the damage he did with a sparkling dribble, shooting when there was a chance to set up Ionut Lupescu, but at least this was the prelude to more ambitious Romanian sortees. The audience had been waiting for Hagi to come alive and now he did, exchanging passes from a corner-kick before whipping in a low cross that only just eluded Dumitrescu.
A surprise shot from Lupescu so confused Ravelli that he almost made a complete mess of touching it over his crossbar and this encouraged Romania to come out of their shell and step up the pace. For Hagi this meant another painful experience and Schwarz received a yellow card for hooking him down.
Romania quickly got themselves going in the second half and Ravelli had to move smartly to fist out Dan Petrescu's fierce drive. And with Dumitrescu showing more willingness to run the ball at the heart of Sweden's defence the game brightened up considerably.
Andersson was not the threat he had been early on, finding it more difficult to be influential as a result of being closely marked by Gheorghe Popescu, and Sweden had to rely more on men getting forward from midfield.
Romanian hands went up in disgust when the English referee Philip Don decided that Raducioiu had not been fouled in the penalty- area and they were made cautious again soon afterwards.
Roland Nilsson sent Thomas Brolin through with a clever pass and a brilliant shot brought an equally brilliant save from Prunea who touched the ball over one- handed when it seemed to be heading for the top far-corner.
When it was looking that the game would go into extra-time Sweden took the lead following a free-kick on the right and 10 yards outside Romania's penalty-area. Hakan Mild caught the Romanians napping with a ball slid on to Brolin who found the roof of the net in the 79th minute.
Sweden stood just one minute from a place in the semi-final when Raducioiu rescued Romania. Hagi's shot, after receiving the ball back from a short free-kick, ricocheted among the legs of Sweden's defensive wall before arriving in Raducioiu's path and he swept it into the far corner.
It appeared that the Hagi- Dumitresu alliance had decisively worked again for the Romania when they engineered an opportunity from a free-kick that enabled Raducioiu to give them the lead in 101st minute. When Schwarz was sent off after receiving his second yellow card a minute later the odds heavily favoured Romania. But Kennet Andersson set up a penalty shoot-out when he headed a equaliser in the 115th minute.
Tommy Svensson, the Swedish coach, hailed Ravelli, his 34-year- old goalkeeper as 'the key to the victory'. Asked what he thought of deciding matches by penalties, Svensson said: 'There is no other way. At least this way involves the skill of the player, it is better than a lottery.'
He added: 'It was do or die for us after they took the lead. We had to take a gamble and make an all- out effort to score.'
Ravelli, who made a record- equalling 115th national team appearance for Sweden, 10 short of Peter Shilton's world mark, said he disliked penalty shoot-outs.
'It would be far better if it was sudden death,' he said. 'I've never been through anything like this before. Not only because of the penalty shoot-out. It looked like we were losing the game, but we came back.'
Anghel Iordanescu, the Romanian coach, said: 'There had to be a winner, but it is a game that shows no mercy.
'It was a heart-attack match. Because we were in this stage of the World Cup for the first time, we had great psychological pressure. We started with fear, but slowly we balanced the game and created problems for Sweden.'
ROMANIA (1-4-4-1): Prunea (Dinamo Bucharest); Belodedici (Valencia); Petrescu (Genoa), Prodan (Steaua Bucharest), Popescu (PSV Eindhoven), Selymes; Munteanu (both Cercle Bruges), Hagi (Brescia), Dumitrescu (Steaua Bucharest), Lupescu (Bayer Leverkusen); Raducioiu (Milan). Substitute: Panduru (Steaua Bucharest) for Munteanu, 83.
SWEDEN (4-3-3): Ravelli (IFK Gothenburg); R Nilsson (Helsingborg), P Andersson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Bjorklund (IFK Gothenburg) Ljung (Galatasaray); Schwarz (Arsenal), Mild (Servette), Ingesson (PSV Eindhoven); Dahlin (Borussia Monchengladbach), Brolin (Parma), K Andersson (Lille). Substitutes: Kamark (IFK Gothenburg) for Bjorklund, 83, H Larsson (Feyenoord) for Dahlin, 106.
Referee: P Don (England).Reuse content