SWEDEN 0-1 BELGIUM

Belgium have now done enough to secure themselves a place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 after a close win over Sweden to qualify for the knockout stages.

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Marc Wilmots’ squad includes three Liverpool players that will now make their way to the next round of the tournament. Divock Origi and Christian Benteke have been substitutes rather than starting 11 players, but at least have made some appearances in the competition while Simon Mignolet has been an unused substitute, with the regular goalkeeper (Thibaut Courtois) not needing to be replaced at all so far. Another Liverpool player to be selected in his countries squad but not to have played at all includes Emre Can, who hasn’t been high on Joachim Low’s priority list to use for Germany, who also qualify to the last 16.

Sweden haven’t had a shot on target in the last two matches but were the first to try their luck at scoring in this game but failed to do so when Berg shot straight at Thibaut Courtois, however both teams looked dangerous in the first half, with either side having the potential to take a lead. Belgium would reply with attacks of their own after Sweden kept testing their opponents and it was classic attack and counter attack play for a large part of the game. If Sweden had put this much effort into their other games, perhaps they would have more goals and points.

Sweden had some urgency in their game, partly because they simply HAD to win, for qualification but perhaps also because Zlatan Ibrahimovic had announced that once Sweden are done with the competition, he plans to retire from international football. It was in fact, his last ever game for Sweden, as they could not do enough to qualify (not even from third place), they sit at the bottom of Group E after only having gained a single point from the tournament.

Ibrahimovic announced plans to retire immediately

It was such a shame that his last ever game came with some controversy and bad luck. He actually scored a goal, only for it to be disallowed because a challenge by his own teammate (Berg) was judged to have been a foul just before Ibrahimovic put the ball into the net with a beautiful volley. If only it had counted. For all the years of service to his country, he really deserved to have gone out to retirement in a game that saw him claim a goal and have it count. His teammate seriously should not have been making any fouls in the build up to Ibrahimovic’s shot.  I feel bad for Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic scored a goal which was disallowed. Fans will still remember his volley in his last ever match for Sweden

Ibrahimovic scored a goal which was disallowed. Fans will still surely remember his volley that made it into the net in his last ever match for Sweden.

Belgium had to wait until very late in the second half for their winning goal.

nainggolan scores for Belgium

Radja Nainggolan scores for Belgium

Radja Nainggolan fired home a rather lucky shot that only managed to make it’s way into the net from a deflection off Erkan Zengin with six minutes to play. Sweden really had no chance to win from this point onwards and it had been required of them to keep playing at Euro 2016.

Even if the Belgian’s one goal had still been scored and Ibrahimovic’s goal had counted, the 1-1 draw would not have been enough to qualify Sweden either, they really did need all three points to push them up the Group E table for a spot in the last 16.

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Ireland were lucky enough to get a 1-0 win in their game against Italy, unexpected but it did leave them with 4 points and a 3rd place spot confirmed to put them in the knockout round, although a strong side that won their group will now face them in their next fixture, so celebrations may be short-lived for the Irish.

Man Of The Match? Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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No, his side did not qualify for the next round. But this wonderful veteran player showed humility under pressure and during a frustrating game for him that should have seen him named as a goalscorer, officially. It was incredible bad luck that the referee would blow his whistle to make the decision of a foul by Ibrahimovic’s teammate. That’s not Zlatan’s fault, he just finished beautifully and put the ball in the net.

He has been a respectable player for Sweden for many years. He scored in this game. I don’t care if it was disallowed, his goal and his efforts alone for his country not just in this fixture but in all the fixtures he’s been a part of ever are each reason enough to name him Man Of The Match in his last international match ever. Any professional football player should hope and aspire to be as humble and well-respected as Zlatan Ibrahimovic by the time they leave international duty forever.

Well, that’s all for news on this fixture. There’ll be more news to come and we’ll have more Liverpool players to talk about as the tournament continues with our much-loved players still in it.

You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.

written by] Stuart Drewery.

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I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

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