Radja Nainggolan sends Belgium through as Sweden crash out, Zlatan Ibrahimovic bows out with loss
Group E, Allianz Riviera - Sweden 0 Belgium 1 (Nainggolan 84’)
Belgium's midfielder Radja Nainggolan (C) celebrates a goal with Belgium's forward Dries Mertens (2nd L) and Belgium's midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (R) during the Euro 2016 group E football match between Sweden and Belgium at the Allianz Riviera stadium in
Belgium have progressed to the final 16 of the European Championship after a superb Radja Nainggolan strike saw them beat Sweden 1-0 in Nice.
Nainggolan struck a brilliant shot from distance to win the game with just six minutes remaining, rifling a shot into the far corner from outside the box. Victory for Belgium means that they will now face Hungary in Toulouse on Sunday night.
Sweden played much better than in their two drab previous outings, creating chances and testing Thibaut Courtois. But Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unable to secure Sweden’s passage in his final appearance before his international retirement although he did have the ball in the net, only to see the flag raised for a foul in the box.
Chances were at a premium in the first half for both teams, with Kevin De Bruyne testing Andreas Isaksson and Romelu Lukaku failing to connect with a tempting cross.
In the second half, Sweden appealed for a penalty for a handball and Lukaku also had a goal ruled out for offside and another effort well saved by Andreas Isaksson. Sub Christian Benteke almost made it 2-0 in the dying moments but was denied again by the excellent Isaksson.
The result means that Sweden finish bottom with one point, and Belgium come second on six points - the same as group winners Italy, who they lost to Italy earlier in the group.
Sweden's midfielder Albin Ekdal vies with Belgium's midfielder Kevin De Bruyne during the Euro 2016 group E football match between Sweden and Belgium at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 22, 2016
Image credit: AFP
So long Zlatan. It’s sad to see him go but Sweden have not deserved to go through on the back of their previous performances. If only he had received better service in the box.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium): A close call between himself and Hazard. Every time he got the ball, Sweden looked frightened and he came very close to scoring.
44’ – DE BRUNYE CLOSE: His curling effort is just wide of the top corner.
62’ – IBRAHINOVIC GOAL RULED OUT: He has the ball in the back of the net but the flag is up for a high foot from Berg.
67’ – SAVE! Isaksson to the rescue, pulling off a fine save to deny de Brunye.
74’ – FINE SAVE ISAKSSON: He comes out to block Lukaku’s shot with the striker clear on goal.
76’ – COURTOIS SAVE: He palms away Ibrahimovic’s free kick on the stretch.
84’ – GOAL! Belgium 1-0 Sweden: It’s an absolute cracker from Nainggolan from outside the box, arrowing into the far corner.
90+1’ – SAVE! The excellent Isaksson is at it again, denying Benteke from Hazard’s cut back.
Sweden's forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic gestures
Image credit: AFP
Belgium win six of their last seven competitive matches. In this run, they only failed to beat Italy (2-0 defeat) in their EURO 2016 opening match.
Sweden remain winless in the group stage for the second time in EURO history after 2000, when they lost 2-1 against both Italy and Belgium and recorded a goalless draw against Turkey.
Belgium record back-to-back wins and keep back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in EURO history.
Sweden finish last in their group for the second time in a row at the EUROs.
Sweden fails to reach the knockout phase in the fourth of their last five EURO appearances. In this run, they only survived the group stage in 2004, when they lost to Netherlands after a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals.
Belgium progress to the knockout phase for the first time since EURO 1980, when they qualified for the final (2-1 defeat against West Germany) as group winners. In 1984 (3rd) and 2000 (3rd), they failed to survive the group stage.
Radja Nainggolan scores his third competitive goal for Belgium after two goals in the EURO qualifications.