Sweden defeated Spain 2-1 at the Friends Arena in Sweden in a rematch of their Euro 2020 group stage meeting to hand La Roja its first World Cup qualifying defeat since 1993 and leave their qualifying group wide open after the conclusion of matchday four.
It was both sides’ first match since Euro 2020, where Spain lost in the semifinal to eventual winners Italy and Sweden were knocked out at the Round of 16 stage by Ukraine.
Having played out a goalless draw that was marked by the Spaniards’ dominance in their Euro 2020 opener, both sides showed from the start of the game at the Friends Arena that they had no intention of playing out another scoreless game. It took Spain only five minutes to register the game’s first goal as Valencia midfielder and debutant Carlos Soler steered in a close range first time volley past Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olson from a Jordi Alba cross.
Spain were too comfortable as Sweden responded immediately in front of their own fans at the Friends Arena within one minute. Captain Sergio Busquets took a loose touch inside his own half after a heavy pass from goalscorer Soler and lost the ball. The ball eventually fell to Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak, who took a couple of touches to steady himself before firing a brilliant strike into the far corner of Unai Simon’s goal in the 6th minute.
La Roja continued to press forward and attack a disciplined Swedish side that had not lost in 11 competitive matches at home. The Swedes punished Spain for their profligacy in front of goal with a brilliant second goal. Juventus midfielder Dejan Kulusevski showed brilliant feet to lose a couple of Spanish markers before crossing into the feet of Victor Claesson. Claesson took a touch to get the ball out of his feet before firing one in at Unai Simon’s near post to give Sweden the lead, and ultimately, the win over Spain.
Sweden have now handed Spain a first defeat in World Cup qualifying since March 1993 against another Scandinavian nation, Denmark. It ended a run of 52 wins and 14 draws from La Roja. They now sit in second place with seven points from four matches in their World Cup qualifying group, with Sweden now occupying top spot in the group with maximum nine points from three matches.