England struggle against Sweden
20 Jun 2006 - 22:40:55
England finished top of Group B but Sven-Goran Eriksson had no other reason to be positive after watching his side struggle to draw 2-2 against Sweden in Cologne.
The night started badly when Michael Owen had to leave the field after just 50 seconds with a knee injury that looks set to end his involvement in the World Cup.
England overcame that handicap to produce a composed first-half display and led at the interval thanks to a wonderful 34th-minute goal from the match's outstanding player, Joe Cole.
A David Beckham cross was headed out to the Chelsea midfielder 25 yards out. He controlled it on his chest before unleashing a dipping volley that flew in to the top corner of Andreas Isaksson's goal.
It was a different story after the break as Sweden bombarded the England goal from a succession of corners, exposing a genuine weakness at the back.
The hard-working Marcus Allback levelled five minutes after the restart, rising above Beckham to head home Tobias Linderoth's near-post corner.
Lars Lagerback's side then went close to taking the lead three times, with all three chances coming from flag-kicks.
Freddie Ljungberg saw Paul Robinson tip his header on to the bar, before Olof Mellberg latched on to a Teddy Lucic knock down and fired against the woodwork.
Kim Kallstrom then had a shot hacked off the line by substitute Steven Gerrard, who came on for Wayne Rooney in the 69th minute, with the Manchester United striker looking a long way from being 100 per cent fit.
Against the run of play Gerrard headed home a Joe Cole cross five minutes from time to seemingly give England the points.
However, there was still time for Sweden to equalise. John Terry and Sol Campbell failed to deal with a long throw in to the box and Henrik Larsson tapped home from close range.
England now face Ecuador in the last 16, but are likely to do so without both Owen and Rio Ferdinand, who limped off midway through the second half.
A point was also enough to secure Sweden's place in the last 16 and they will take on hosts Germany.