Football

Watch: Gloriously Grim Goal Gives Sweden Massive World Cup Boost Vs Italy

Watch: Gloriously Grim Goal Gives Sweden Massive World Cup Boost Vs Italy

When the draw for the 2018 World Cup playoffs were made, most Irish fans would have released a big sigh of relief when they were drawn out of the pot to play Sweden.

Along with Croatia, the Italians were seen as the toughest opponent Ireland could face - despite the fact that Martin O'Neill's men claimed a massive three points over a weakened Azzurri side in Lille last summer.

The Swedes would have fancied their chances against Italy on Friday night, hoping to achieve a result that would allow them to prepare for the return leg with something to defend, and sure enough they managed to secure a vital 1-0 win which crucially denied their opponents an away goal.

When Sweden took the lead, it was via a deflected shot from substitute Jakob Johansson after a long throw-in, the type of goal that Ireland would be proud of, and would have felt sickening for the Italians to concede.

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Gutted for Gigi Buffon, nothing he could do about it.

If Sweden do manage to navigate the second leg and reach Russia, there will be a lot of unhappy football fans around the world as they would have denied Buffon a World Cup swansong in doing so, but that is a massive result for Janne Andersson and his players.

It does, of course, also set up a cracking second leg which should make for a great watch for neutrals everywhere on Monday night.

Mikey Traynor

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