Football fans across Sweden are reveling in an unlikely victory that saw their under 21 side take the trophy at the recent European championship, defeating powerhouse Portugal on penalties.
Considered outsiders from the start, they stumbled through their pool games, coming from behind with only 10 men to beat Italy, and scoring an overtime goal against Turkey to snatch a playoff berth. Leaving it to the last minute was a trend throughout, with an 88th minute winner against France and 89th minute goal in an earlier game against Portugal.
In the final no one scored, leaving the score at 0-0, and leading to penalties which they triumphed 4-3 to give Sweden its first men’s champions since the 1948 Olympics.
“Who could have thought that Sweden could win the tournament?”, said their excited captain afterwards.
Both sides had their chances, with several shots on goal, but some brilliant saving from both goalkeepers, and wayward strikes left the game scoreless by the final whistle. Ultimately the villain for Portugal was their feared striker Carvalho who missed the forth attempt.
Sweden lost in the 1958 World Cup final, and were knocked out in the semis twice; 1958 and 1990, going on to win the third place playoff on both occasions.