Unbeaten Sweden topped Group E after beating Poland on a brace from Emil Forsberg and a goal from Victor Claesson at the Saint Petersburg Stadium here.
Poland needed a win for qualification, but the Poles caught the worst possible start into the game as Forsberg’s left-footed effort into the far post corner made it 1-0 with 83 seconds played on Wednesday, reports Xinhua.
Paulo Manuel Carvalho Sousa’s side responded well and came to two promising chances but for all that, Robert Lewandowski rattled the woodwork in quick succession in the 17th minute.
As the match progressed, Poland gained the upper hand, yet they failed to work out many clear-cut opportunities due to Sweden’s rock-solid defence.
The Poles reaped their best chance in the closing stages of the first half after goalkeeper Robin Olsen had to stretch to tip Piotr Zielinski’s effort on target around the post.
After the restart, Poland dominated possession and kept Sweden’s defence busy but still, neither Zielinski nor Grzegorz Krychowiak was able to beat Olsen in the early stages.
Poland’s wastefulness got punished by ice-cold Swedes, who doubled the advantage in the 59th minute when Forsberg collected Dejan Kulusevski’s build-up work before drilling the ball from 15 metres into the top-right corner.
However, Poland responded this time and halved the deficit through prolific striker Robert Lewandowski, who curled the ball past two defenders into the top right two minutes later.
Poland pressed frenetically and thought they had restored parity, but Jakub Swierczok’s goal was ruled offside in the 65th minute.
The Poles continued on the front foot and got rewarded for their dominance in the 84th minute when Lewandowski had all the time and space to process Przemyslaw Frankowski’s assist before putting the ball past Olsen from close range.
Just when Poland had gained momentum, Sweden killed the game in the injury time after Victor Claesson finished off a counterattack to knock out Poland from the tournament.
“It was a crazy start. It meant that they were a little more desperate than us. They created chances, could have scored, and we had a bit of luck. At 2-0, the game should be over, but they equalised, and their goals came a little too easily. But then we got the third, and now it’s just pure happiness,” Sweden striker Forsberg said.
With the result, Sweden clinched the top spot with seven points in Group E followed by Spain (5 points), Slovakia (3 points) and Poland (1 point).