ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — The heir to Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally delivered for Sweden at the World Cup. Emil Forsberg scored a deflected goal in the 66th minute to give the Swedes a 1-0 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday and a place in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 24 years.
Shy and understated, the 26-year-old Forsberg couldn’t be more different than the larger-than-life Ibrahimovic, who ruled the Sweden team for more than a decade and was the greatest player the country ever produced.
But Forsberg arrived in Russia shouldering the creative burden left by Ibrahimovic following his retirement two years ago, and the attacking midfielder’s skills and slick movement stood out at St. Petersburg Stadium.
Forsberg’s scruffy shot from the edge of the area was likely heading straight for Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer, but it took a deflection off the boot of centre back Manuel Akanji and landed in the net.
In stoppage time, Michael Lang was sent off for Switzerland for a professional foul on Sweden substitute Martin Olsson. The referee initially awarded a penalty kick but later gave a free kick after a video review.
Sweden became the fifth European team to reach the quarterfinals and will play either England or Colombia on Saturday in Samara. The last time Sweden made it this far at the World Cup was in 1994, when the team reached the semifinals.