Nainggolan cracker edges Sweden

Belgium booked their place in the knockout stages of Euro 2016 after claiming a narrow 1-0 victory over Sweden at the Allianz Riviera on Wednesday night.

  • Sweden 0 Belgium 1
  • Courtois denies Berg early on
  • Still goalless at half-time
  • De Bruyne makes goalline clearance
  • Nainggolan scores late winner

Match Summary

Marc Wilmots’ side looked dangerous on the counter but the Swedes turned them away time after time before Radja Nainggolan scored with a long-range stunner late on, having tried his luck several times beforehand without success.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic went close on a few occasions, but his international career comes to an end in disappointing fashion after he failed to score at a fourth successive European Championship.

Full Report

Belgium controlled proceedings in Nice as Sweden were left to defend against their swift counter-attacks on numerous occasions.

But the best chance of the first half fell to Erik Hamren’s side after just five minutes when a free-kick from Kim Kallstrom landed at the feet of Marcus Berg, whose shot from 12 yards out was well saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Prior to that, Eden Hazard had teed up Axel Witsel from just outside the area, but his shot failed to trouble Andreas Isaksson as the ball flew over the crossbar.

Isaksson made his first save on seven minutes when he got the slightest of touches on Romelu Lukaku’s shot to push the ball wide the far post, while Kevin De Bruyne tested him with an effort from range that the keeper clutched out of the air on 25 minutes.

Ibrahimovic got a sight on goal moments later after being teed up by Berg just outside the area, but the veteran striker dragged his shot wide of the keeper’s right post.

The Red Devils almost broke the deadlock just before half-time from a short corner, but no-one could get on the end of De Bruyne’s dangerous in-swinging cross from the left as the ball zipped narrowly wide of the far post.

The Blagult created the first chance of the second half as Kallstrom picked out Ibrahimovic at the back post, but the captain was unable to keep his 52nd-minute header down.

They threatened again moments later when Ibrahimovic released Berg, who overran the ball but managed to recover and laid it off for Albin Ekdal, and his weak shot from the edge of the area was easily gathered by Courtois.

De Bruyne went close to breaking the deadlock on 66 minutes as he forced Isaksson into a diving save to keep out his fierce strike from range after Belgium launched another quick counter.

Isaksson was called into action again on 73 minutes as he raced off his line to deny Lukaku at close range after the striker was sent through on goal by De Bruyne. The Everton striker had the ball in the back of the net seconds later after being played in by Thomas Meunier, but the flag correctly went up for offside.

Ibrahimovic tested Courtois soon afterwards with a dipping free-kick that the keeper parried away to safety, before Dries Mertens forced Isaksson into a sharp save from 16 yards out on the left after jinking his way into the area, while De Bruyne made a last-ditch clearance to hack Ekdal’s header off the line.

The Swedes had done a good job at the back but they were unlocked on 84 minutes as Hazard’s cross from the left came out to Nainggolan, who took one touch before beating Isaksson from outside the area with the aid of a deflection.

Sweden looked for a quick response and Ibrahimovic went within inches of an equaliser as he hooked Ekdal’s cross just wide of the keeper’s left post.

Belgium almost snatched a second goal at the death from another counter-attack, with Hazard racing down the left before picking out Christian Benteke, whose shot was well saved by Isaksson.