<
>
2016 European Championship, Group Stage 2016
  • Éder (88')

Late Eder goal sends Italy through to next round with win over Sweden

Eder scored a late goal as Italy beat Sweden 1-0 to seal a place in the Euro 2016 knockout stages.

Antonio Conte's side went into the game knowing that, while a win would guarantee their place in the knockout stages, a draw would also probably suffice, so it was little surprise to see the Italians sit back and try to reduce the space for lone Swedish threat Zlatan Ibrahimovic to operate in during a lacklustre first half.

What looked like an astonishing miss by Ibrahimovic on 72 minutes from just a yard out threatened to be the story of the game, but the assistant referee flagged for a narrow offside decision to spare his blushes.

And, after Marco Parolo had struck the bar for Italy, the game was settled with less than two minutes of normal time remaining when Eder weaved in from the left to create space on the edge of the box and curl a shot into the bottom corner.

Italy had made just the one change from their opening 2-0 win against Belgium, replacing right wing-back Matteo Darmian with Alessandro Florenzi, but faced with the task of breaking down a defensively organised Sweden, the Italians struggled to create anything of note.

Sweden manager Erik Hamren had introduced John Guidetti alongside Ibrahimovic in the starting lineup to try and create some space for the Sweden captain, but opportunities were at a premium for both teams as the two defences shut the game down in the opening 45 minutes.

Despite the close attention from the Juventus-based Italian back three of Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, Ibrahimovic was still the pick of the Sweden players before the interval, and was denied an early sight of goal by an excellent covering clearance from Chiellini.

A half-hearted penalty appeal from the Sweden captain -- who last scored for his country against Denmark in November 2015, a record drought in his international career -- after a coming together with Barzagli in the penalty area was the only other moment of note in an otherwise uneventful first half, but referee Viktor Kassai awarded the foul the other way.

The game failed to liven up as the second half got underway, although Italy did enjoy a hint of a chance after 61 minutes when Parolo picked up the ball on the counter-attack. However, the midfielder dallied in possession and delayed his pass, allowing Kim Kallstrom to get back and deny the waiting Simone Zaza a chance to shoot from the edge of the box.

The game looked to be drifting to a stalemate, but Inter striker Eder had other ideas, picking up a long throw from Chiellini and cutting inside on to his right foot, bending a shot around goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.

Italy face Republic of Ireland at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille in their final group game on Wednesday June 22, which kicks off at 9 p.m. local time, but are already assured of a place in the round of 16 and could be guaranteed top spot if Ireland fail to beat Belgium on Friday evening.

Sweden are likely to need a win over Belgium in their final fixture at the Allianz Riviera in Nice to progress, with that game also kicking off at 9 p.m. local time.