Sweden beats South Korea thanks to VAR

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) came to Sweden’s rescue as it was put to use in awarding the Swedes a penalty which led to the winning goal against South Korea on Monday.

Joel Aguilar had initially dismissed Swedish pleas for a second-half spot-kick, but for the second time in this tournament VAR came into play and after reviewing Kim Minwoo’s tackle on Viktor Claesson the referee deemed it was a foul.

Captain Andreas Granqvist calmly converted the penalty to earn his team valuable three points and put them above Germany in an intriguing Group F following Mexico’s stunning victory over the holders Sunday.

Competing at a World Cup for the first time since 2006, Sweden deserved to win a match which was peppered with more fouls than flair.

Sweden, who knocked out Italy in the playoffs to reach Russia 2018, had chances to go ahead before Granqvist’s 65th-minute penalty but were denied by a brilliant goalkeeping display by Kim Seungguy.

Indeed, the highlight of the first half was a fantastic save from Kim at point-blank range from Marcus Berg.

The Sweden striker should have scored to capitalize on a half which consisted of eight attempts on goal by Sweden compared to South Korea’s one.

In truth, there was more intrigue and excitement in the build up to the match, with Sweden manager Janne Andersson apologizing after a member of the Sweden coaching staff was caught watching a South Korea training session. There had been a misunderstanding, he said, with his scout believing the session was open to all.

South Korea’s manager Shin Tae-yong said his players switched shirts to cause confusion because, in his words, “they might know a few of our players but it is very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians.”

Shin’s men will next face Mexico, who beat defending champions Germany 1-0 on Sunday and will hope for a better result if they are to improve on their showing from four years ago when they finished bottom of their group with a solitary point.