- Jamie Carragher: Southgate has changed our perceptions
- Paul Hayward: It's now or never for England at the World Cup
- Belgium vs Panama (4pm kick-off)
- England vs Tunisia (7pm kick-off)
Andreas Granqvist took advantage of a VAR-awarded penalty to hand Sweden a 1-0 win over South Korea in their World Cup opener.
The Sweden captain tucked home in the 65th minute of the Group F clash in Nizhny Novgorod after technology was used to rule that Viktor Claesson had been fouled in the area.
It was a deserved victory for Sweden, who created the better chances throughout and Marcus Berg spurned a couple of good openings.
The Swedes had been accused of spying on a Korea training session in the build-up to the game but they began with an apparent determination to put their own shortcomings in front of goal right.
Sweden had not scored in three outings prior to the tournament but they showed the greater attacking intent in the first half.
Granqvist, without defensive colleague Victor Lindelof of Manchester United due to illness, had an early opportunity after breaking from deep. He combined well with Berg, who returned his pass with a neat backheel, but Kim Young-gwon produced a fine tackle to frustrate him.
Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo then justified his unexpected selection, having been regarded as coach Shin Tae-yong's third choice, by producing a fine point-black save to deny Berg. Ola Toivonen headed wide from the resulting corner.
Korea suffered a blow when left-back Park Joo-ho was forced off midway through the first half with a hamstring injury and Sweden threatened again moments later through Berg, but again Young-gwon got in the way.
Tottenham's Son Heung-min created a rare Korea opportunity as he broke away from Granqvist but he was unable to pick out a colleague in the box.
Berg had another chance before the break as he controlled a long ball on his chest and took it away from the keeper but he could only lob across goal.
Mikael Lustig picked out Claesson with an inviting cross on the stroke of half-time but his header was deflected wide.
Korea began the second half more positively with Koo Ja-cheol heading narrowly wide but Sweden soon regained control and Jo again did well to keep out a header from Toivonen.
The breakthrough came after 65 minutes as Sweden were awarded a penalty after video review. Referee Joel Aguilar initially allowed play to go on after Claesson was hacked down by Lee Jae-sung but called a halt moments later, as Korea launched a counter-attack, after a word in his ear.
Granqvist took responsibility and sent Jo the wrong way.
That proved the telling blow and Sweden were largely untroubled as they saw out victory.
Korea might have snatched an equaliser in stoppage time but Hwang Hee-chan was unable to keep his header on target.
Anyway, what does that mean for Group F? Well, Sweden join Mexico at the head of the table, while South Korea and Germany are pointless (and goalless). Today's winners face the reigning World Cup champions next, which is a huge game. If Germany lose... well. Let's wait and see.
Good job / bad job
Obviously Clatts knows a hell of a lot more about refereeing than me, but I'm not really sure what the problem is. Yes, replays showed it was a penalty, but it all happened very quickly and did not appear clear cut at first viewing. VAR did the required job and all has ended correctly. Can't we just be happy with that?
Mark Clattenburg (speaking on ITV) on the VAR decision:
What I'm concerned about the refereeing so far is he has a perfect chance to make the decision. He moves across beautifully. He has an unobstructed view and can clearly see it is a foul. I can't understand how a referee at this level cannot make a simple decision like this. Are they relying too much on the video?
A strange game, as a whole. You have to say Sweden deserved it, although they were rather underwhelming both for their poor finishing and the way they played after taking the lead. South Korea just looked blunt though. They didn't have enough to break down a decent defensive performance from the Swedes.
Sweden 1 South Korea 0
90+3 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
A needless corner given away by Sweden! The Korean goalkeeper wanted to come up for it, but the coach says no. In comes the ball and the Koreans reckon there may have been a Swedish handball, but the referee isn't interested at all. Replays show the ball seemed to thud into Granqvist's head or perhaps chest. Correct decision.
90+2 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
Was that the chance? The ball is delivered high into the box, it finds its way to Hwang unmarked on the penalty spot, but his header is off target and wide of the post.
I tell you what, Sweden have been hopeless since taking the lead. You could argue they are content to sit back on their 1-0 lead, but they have barely touched the ball.
90 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
There will be four minutes of stoppage time for South Korean to find an equaliser...
89 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
Kim Min-Woo's cross from the left is hacked clear at the near post.
88 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
The Koreans are really struggling to break Sweden down. Plenty of possession, but they are greeted with a wall of yellow and don't seem to possess anything capable of breaking it down.
86 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
South Korea have not had a shot on target this entire match.
85 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
Nervous faces aplenty as the camera pans across the crowd. Lee Seung-Woo has woken up his side since coming off the bench. Can they find a route through?
82 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
Son has more than half a dozen team-mates waiting in the box as he stands over a free-kick from the right, but his delivery fails to beat the front man. Sweden have not kicked on since taking the lead at all.
80 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
The final substitution of the match sees Svensson replace the injured Larsson, who appears to have picked up a knock to one of his legs and limps off the pitch.
79 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
The South Koreans are seeing more of the ball in these closing stages, but Son cannot work his magic on the edge of the box, where he is crowded out as he looks for a route on goal. Lee Seung-Woo has been lively since coming off the bench.
77 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
VAR in action:
76 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
The signs aren't looking promising at the moment for the Koreans, who just don't seem to possess the threat required.
Another Swedish change sees Thelin replace Toivonen.
74 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
Lee Seung-Woo played for Barcelona once upon a time, by the way. He now plies his trade at Verona and is only 20 years old. Can he mastermind an equaliser?
72 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
All sorts of changes being made now. Hiljemark comes on for Ekdal, while Lee Seung-Woo is on in place of Koo.
70 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
South Korea made a change after that goal, with Kim Shin-Wook replaced by Jung. That has seen Hwang moved up top and the substitute shifted out wide.
Meanwhile, Sweden are very much on the charge now with the Koreans losing their way a little.
67 mins - Sweden 1 South Korea 0
Like or loathe VAR, but that was perfect use of the tool. An incorrect decision, correctly overturned. Oh and Granqvist had scored a few penalties in qualifying for this tournament, so perhaps not that much of a surpise.
Can you believe who has stepped up to take the penalty? It's centre-back Granqvist!!! Here he comes... cool as you like. The skipper sidefoots the ball low to the right and Sweden are 1-0 up.
It was Kim Min-Woo who slid in on Claesson inside the penalty area. Did he get the ball or was it all man?
Replays show: No touch of the ball. Clear penalty. And the referee has overturned his decision and pointed to the spot.
62 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
HUGE appeals for a Swedish penalty. The players and manager are going absolutely insane. And the referee has made the VAR signal...
61 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
A yellow card for Claesson after a reckless challenge on Hwang high up the pitch.
59 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Down the other end comes Hwang, who gets to the byline, hares towards the goal and attempts to cut back to one of four South Koreans charging into the box, but Jansson cuts it out just in the nick of time.
58 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
It's been a livelier start to the second half at both ends of the pitch.
57 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
... Larsson whips a gorgeous ball in, Toivonenmeets it in the middle and nods strongly towards goal, but Jo saves well low to his right again. The South Korean goalkeeper is having a fine game.
55 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
A yellow card for Hwang for kicking Augustinsson in the back on the floor after fouling the Swedish player. That gives Sweden the chance to deliver a cross into the box from the left...
53 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
He's up on his feet and close to the first goal of the afternoon. A few Korean supporters in the stadium think their side has taken the lead, but Koo's header has gone the wrong side of the post. He did excellently to rise highest at the near post as the ball was delivered from the left, but the header is just off target.
52 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Painful for Koo (who is writhing in agony) after Larsson stamps on the side of his knee while challenging for the ball. A free-kick is given but nothing more. It looked accidental, although Ally McCoisat says "he knows" what he's doing.
50 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Another opportunity goes begging for Sweden as Claesson gets in behind the Korean defence before cutting back to the fast-arriving Forsberg. The RB Leipzig winger decides to cut inside onto his right foot and attempts to curl into the top corner, but puts too much on it and watches as the ball sails high and wide.
47 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
An early sniff of a chance that never materialises for South Korea. The ball is worked to wide right where Lee Yong has made good ground from right-back, but his low cross is too close to Olsen and the goalkeeper snaffles it with ease.
Kick-off (part two)
Sweden get the second half underway. No half-time changes for either side.
"That was a sitter," says Henrik Larsson of Berg's miss from close-range. But the Swede is content enough with his side's performance.
They started slowly, but Sweden have dominated huge portions of this match and it's difficult to see anything other than a victory for the European side based on that first-half showing. Actually, a goalless draw could be a sure bet. South Korea have just been unable to get enough time on the ball, while Son has been kept quiet.
Nothing doing for either side. Sweden 0 South Korea 0.
45+1 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Another opportunity late in the half for Sweden. Lustig delivers a demon of a cross from the right, which Larsson rises highest to meet, but his header is deflected over the bar for a corner that comes to nothing.
45 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Two minutes of stoppage time to be played.
44 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Another chance for Berg, who does brilliantly to bring a long ball down on his chest and work a shooting chance, but again his finish is poor. Ki then slides in on Toivonen, which prompts appeals for a Sweden penalty, but the referee says no. And replays show it was a perfect sliding tackle, taking the entire ball and then a whole lot of man after.
42 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
This is smart from the South Koreans, working the ball from left to right and before it is played in to Son as he darts into the box. Augustinsson gets just in front of the Spurs man though and nips in to tackle at the crucial moment.
38 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Sweden are furious not to be awarded a free-kick high up the pitch, but the referee waves away their appeals and it allows Ki to drive South Korea up the pitch. The chance fails to materialise but the Swedes are furious. Rightly so, replays show, because that was a clear foul on Forsberg.
Jon Champion has just said "possibilities" in the manner of his Pro Evo commentary. I hope someone other than me know what I'm talking about there. It prompted a little smile (from me).
35 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
The shot counter stands at Sweden 2 South Korea 0. The likes of Son just aren't getting a sniff of the ball at the moment. Hold that thought... here he comes. The Spurs man picks the ball up inside his own half and sprints all of 50m past the Sweden defence before cutting back in the direction Hwang, but Granqvist is there to cut out the danger.
31 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
This is where Berg missed from:
30 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
South Korea are just hanging on a little now as Sweden continue to press.
29 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
... the ball is delivered, only to be headed behind for a corner. And another corner after Kim Young-Gwon throws himself admirably in the way of Berg's close-range shot. A brilliant block that. Kim Min-Woo is now on in place of Park.
27 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
South Korea are a man down at the moment and Park is going to have to go off. He looks to have done some hamstring damage while leaping to keep a ball in play. A new left back is going to be required. Meanwhile, Sweden have an extra man and a free-kick in a dangerous position...
25 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
The Swedes have grown into this match after a slow start. South Korea have been nowhere near the opposition penalty area for some time.
24 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
That Berg chance really, really, really should have been taken and it should be 1-0 to Sweden.
21 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
What a save. My word, how has that not gone in??? Berg is totally unmarked as the ball comes into the box, eight yards from goal and looks for all the money in the world like he is going to score. But Jo makes himself big and deflects the ball over the bar courtesy of his leg and a punch.
That was a HUGE chance. Also the first shot of the match for either side.
18 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
What a run from Granqvist. The Sweden centre-back decides to take matters into his own hands and charges from his centre-back position upfield. He plays a lovely one-two with Berg, whose smart back-heel guides the ball into the box, where Kim Young-Gwon has to slide in and deliver an inch-perfect tackle just as the Sweden skipper was preparing to shoot.
16 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
The volume briefly rises as Son is given the chance to run at the Sweden defence down the left, but Jansson stands his ground well and times his challenge nicely just inside his own penalty area to dispossess the Spurs man.
14 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
A first hint of danger for the Koreans as Sweden have the ball inside their penalty area, but no opportunity arises to have a crack and the eventual cross is claimed well by Jo.
13 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Only 1,500 South Koreans inside the stadium apparently, while 30,000 Swedish fans are thought to have made the journey to Russia. But the minority will be more pleased with what they've seen so far. Although Kim Shin-Wook has just picked up the first booking of the match for a high tackle. Probably accidental, as his foot rolled over the ball but a yellow nonetheless.
10 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Blimey, referee Joel Aguilar has had his whistle glued to his lips so far. Soft foul after soft foul, all around the middle of the park.
9 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Sweden have been unable to venture into South Korea's third in these opening exchanges. Goals are the main concern for this Swedish side.
6 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Another set piece for South Korea after a foul on the left flank. Son is the man to deliver the inswinger, but Kim Shin-Wook (who is playing up top for the Koreans) is deemed guilty of fouling his marker and the referee blows the whistle for a foul.
5 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
Hwang has a first chance to run at his opposite number down the right and wins a corner for South Korea. Kim Shin-Wook is 6ft 6in so a decent target man for the set piece but Olsen comes out to punch clear with ease.
3 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
A couple of gentle fouls, a few long balls and Ally McCoist unhappy that South Korea weren't allowed to wear red because it would have "brightened up the occasion". That's your lot so far.
2 mins - Sweden 0 South Korea 0
It looks as though Ki is going to play deep in the central midfield role for South Korea, dropping between centre-backs when necessary. His contribution will be crucial, you think.
Sweden in yellow. South Korea (not allowed to wear red for this match) in white.
Nearly game time
The players are out. The temperature is 27 degrees. The anthems are being sung. And I cannot listen to Jon Champion without hearing his Pro Evo commentary.
"Coaches often say to players: treat the ball as a friend..."
Fun in the sun
This match is one of six World Cup games being played at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium:
And the weather is beautiful:
News, news, news
A couple of other lines emerging from Russia this morning. Story No 1:
And story No 2:
The South Koreans are - to use football parlance - not in a good moment. They only won four of their 10 qualifying games and required a 0-0 draw away in Uzbekistan to secure their place in Russia. Expectations are not high.
A huge amount of responsibility rests on the shoulder of Son Heung-min. The Spurs man is adored in his home nation, where he is fast approaching Park Ji-sung as their most famous footballing figure.
In the abscene of a reliable forward, Son could lead the line. One interesting name is Salzburg's Hwang Hee-chan, who is the youngest player in the squad and has been linked with a few big-name clubs. He will play up top alongside Son and could whack a few zeros onto his market value at this World Cup.
Most of the remaining players in the squad ply their trade either at home or in Japan, but captain Ki Sung-yueng is an exception. He is the heartbeat of the side, will attempt to run the show from the middle of the park and much will depend on how he performs. The defence is a weakness.
So, in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, what can we expect from Sweden today? First and foremost, a solid defence. Janne Andersson's side kept seven clean sheets in 12 qualifying games before stopping Italy from scoring in either leg of their World Cup play-off.
The team is notable for its lack of star names. Captain Andreas Granqvist did not make the grade at Wigan and plies his trade at Helsingborg, but was the first man other than Ibrahimovic to be named Swedish player of the year since 2006 when he received the accolade last year.
Other potentially familiar names include defenders Victor Lindelof (Manchester United), Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Martin Olsson (Swansea City) and Pontus Jansson (Leeds United). One-time Arsenal and now Hull City midfielder Seb Larsson starts in central midfield, while RB Leipzig's Emil Forsberg carries their main attacking threat from the wing. Much is expected of him in particular.
Lindelof is unwell so Jansson comes into the side to partner Granqvist in the middle of the defence.
A cracking little story has emerged in the build-up to this match. Here's the headline:
And here's the quote from South Korea manager Shin Tae-yong:
I heard that Western people don’t recognise Asian people’s faces at once, so that was my little trick to confuse the opponents.
Your teams are in
Who don't like Mondays?
How great is football on a Monday lunch time? And a Monday afternoon? And a Monday evening? It's literally (that's a lie) never-ending.
Kicking off the World Cup delicacies this week are Sweden and South Korea. Coming into this tournament, both sides would have assumed they were fighting for second place in Group F with reigning champions Germany huge favourites to top the group.
Then the Germans went and lost 1-0 to Mexico, blowing the entire thing wide open.
What it does mean - assuming Germany come back stronger in their remaining two group fixtures - is whoever loses this match will be seriously struggling to make it to the knockout stages.
In the yellow corner are Sweden, who have never lost a match against South Korea (played 4: won 2, drawn 2). They also secured their joint-biggest ever win against the South Koreans when thumping them 12-0 at the 1948 Olympics. What does that mean for today? Absolutely bugger all.
The main thing to note from a Sweden perspective is a lack of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The talismanic striker had been a mainstay of the Swedish line-up for close to two decades, but hung up his (international) boots after Euro 2016. In his absence, the Swedes performed mightily well to qualify for this tournament by finishing second in a group with France and Holland, before beating Italy in the play-offs.
South Korea are guided by two men who will be well-known to Premier League fans: Son Heung-min, of Tottenham fame, and Ki Sung-yueng, of free-agent-but-formerly-of-Swansea-City fame.
The bookies have Sweden as favourites, but South Korea have the standout player on the pitch in Son. And, unsurprisingly, they ruddy love him. I remember this tweet from a few months back:
South Korea is absolutely fanatical about Son Heung-min. 30-min doco about him on TV on Monday. More tonight. And they don’t show Spurs badge for match, just his head pic.twitter.com/tscL6XMy9L— Simon Austin (@sport_simon) February 10, 2018
It turns out the broadcaster had Son's image on the screen so that people knew whether he was on the pitch or not. So not quite what the original tweet suggested, but still pretty amusing.
If you want my tip, I've gone for a 1-1 draw. And that comes from a man sat rock bottom of the 38 people in our Telegraph office match-by-match prediction competition, so anything I say has absolutely no chance of happening.