Russia and Sweden both remain unbeaten in UEFA EURO 2016 Group G after
Ola Toivonen's 49th-minute goal secured a point for the hosts in Solna.
Oleg Shatov closes down Sebastian Larsson, who missed a
13th-minute penalty for Sweden / AFP/Getty Images
Erik Hamren's men came into the match without captain and talisman Zlatan
Ibrahimovic but the home side started positively. In just the second minute
Toivonen almost put them in front but was a fraction away from connecting
with Erkan Zengin's cross.
When Toivonen became the first player to actually hit the target, Igor
Akinfeev denied the forward and Russia responded immediately. Stretching
the Swedish defence as he drove forward on the counter, Aleksandr Kokorin
composed himself 20 metres from goal, shifted the ball onto his right
foot and side-footed into the corner, the deadly accuracy making up for
any lack of power.
Sweden had a golden opportunity to equalise almost immediately. Jimmy
Durmaz – their best player on the night – burst into the area and was
tripped from behind by Igor Smolnikov, giving Sebastian Larsson the chance
from the penalty spot. However, Akinfeev stretched high to his right to
palm away the spot kick and keep his team ahead.
The rest of the first 45 was mostly a case of Russia enjoying control
and dictating the rhythm of the game, but after the restart Durmaz again
showed the way for Sweden. The Olympiacos FC man sprinted down the left
flank, flew past his marker and curled in a perfect low cross which Toivonen
fired in with relish from five metes to draw things level.
It could have gone either way after that, though Fabio Capello's Russia
probably had the better opportunity to win it. It was goalscorer Kokorin
whom the opening fell to, yet the FC Dinamo Moskva ace saw his effort
from close range kept out by the legs of Andreas Isaksson, who rescued
a point for his side.