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Welbeck Winner Sees England Strike Back To Beat Sweden

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England bounced back from a horrid start to the second-half to earn a thrilling win over Sweden to keep their chances of getting out of Group D and into the Euro 2012 quarter-finals well and truly still alive.

As expected Roy Hodgson opted to start Andy Carroll up front with the Liverpool striker coming in for Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade Chamberlain as England made only change from Monday’s draw against France.

Scott Parker is not known for his goalscoring ability but the Spurs workhorse had the first shot of the game seeing a fine effort from outside the area being saved by Andreas Isaksson after Danny Welbeck had knocked the ball into his path.

It was a fine save from the former Manchester City goalkeeper who shortly after could only watch on helpless as Welbeck glanced a header wide from a James Milner cross as England started the game firmly on the front-foot.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was dropping deep to pick up the ball and he tested Joe Hart with a low shot to the goalkeeper’s right. It was a steady save but one that had to be made and on another day could have crept in like Samir Nasri’s goal last Monday.

It has been said the whole season that Andy Carroll can hurt teams in the air if given the opportunity and on 23 minutes a fantastic cross from Steven Gerrard picked out his club team-mate to head home to put England in the lead.

Ibrahimovic and Sweden were not going to fall apart after conceding and the AC Milan forward linked up well with Rasmus Elm only to see a goal-bound shot saved by Hart thanks after Parker and John Terry had between them blocked the ball.

Ashley Young was then set clear down England’s left but with Carroll and Welbeck in the centre waiting for a cross, the winger opted to shoot to try and beat Isaksson at his near-post and failed to be clinical dragging his shot wide.

Kim Kallstrom had the honour of having the final attempt of the half but saw his speculative shot from 25 yards just go over Hart’s bar as England deservedly took a lead going into half-time without reaching even third-gear.

Slackness won’t ever really escape England though and three minutes after the restart Sweden were level when Carroll gave away a silly freekick on the edge of the box fouling Kallstrom seconds after loosing the ball to the midfielder.

Ibrahimovic hammered the free-kick into the wall striking the rebound goalwards. The ball deflected invitingly into Olof Melbeg’s path. The defender’s shot was palmed by Hart onto the unfortunate Johnson and into the net despite the right-back’s best attempt to hack it clear.

It was a poor goal to concede. Worse as is so often the case with England was to follow as 10 minutes later Sweden were to go ahead. A careless tackle by Milner on Martin Olsson 35 yards out gave away a free-kick some 40 yards out.

Kallstrom whipped the ball into the heart of the box and with zonal-marking failing to work, Melberg was given the freedom of Kyiv to head the ball home. The 20,000 Swedish fans inside the Olympic Stadium simply couldn’t believe their luck!

Hodgson quickly brought on Theo Walcott for Milner and the substitution worked a treat as with his first significant touch of the ball the Arsenal winger had put England level all be it with the help of poor goalkeeping from Isaksson.

Isaksson who seconds earlier had kept out a Terry header from close range somehow allowed an effort from Walcott from around 22 yards to loop in over him. After all goalkeepers making mistakes against England just doesn’t happen.

Despite losing the momentum Sweden kept going as Kallstrom saw a right-footed effort go over the bar with that man Ibrahimovic forcing Hart into a smart save with a delicious-looking shot from 25 yards out that would have crept into the corner.

Then with their best move of the match 12 minutes from time England took the lead. Johnson picked out Walcott outside the box who drifted past his marker before crossing the ball across goal for Welbeck who with his back to goal flicked the ball into the net.

It was the Manchester United’s striker second goal for England in just over a fortnight and it turned out to be the winner. England held firm late on and could have nicked a fourth but for Isaksson denying Gerrard from close-range at the death.

Next up for Hodgson’s men are co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk. A point is all that is needed for England to qualify. A win though is needed to put pressure on France to try and avoid facing Spain who look set to win their group in the quarter-finals.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87