After a turgid and physical affair on a sweltering afternoon, Sweden edged South Korea via a second half penalty, awarded after consultation with VAR meaning the Koreans lost an opening day match for the first time since 1998.
After Joel Aguilar, the match referee from El Salvador had waved play on after Min-Woo Kim tripped Viktor Claesson in the box – it was reviewed and given. Captain Andreas Granqvist stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.
It was the seventh penalty in the fifth day of action in Russia and VAR had helped award four of them.
Sweden had the better of ball possession and got their first real scoring chance in 18th minute when Granqvist attempted to latch onto Marcus Berg’s flick but he was denied by some last-ditch defending from Young-Gwon Kim.
Then Berg should have scored as he came face-to-face with Cho Hyun-Woo, in goal for South Korea but the goalkeeper made a fantastic save off his knee. The Koreans made the first substitution of the day in the 28th minute when Joo-Ho Park injured himself trying to keep the ball in play.
Berg was again blocked with the goal beckoning on 30 minutes as Sweden tried to convert their upper hand into the opening goal.
There was a Korean shout for a penalty three minutes to the end of the half when Heung-Min Son went down under a challenge from Ludwig Augustinsson.
Emil Forsberg fired over the bar as the Swedes picked up the tempo four minutes into the second half, South Korea pushed back but Ja-Cheol Koo could only find the side netting.
On 77th minute, a headed knockdown from Son Hueng Min almost gave the Koreans a chance but the danger was cleared. Granqvist blocked a cut back in the 35th minute as the Koreans came back stronger.
Four minutes were added on. Wang got on the end of a headed cut back on 90 minutes but he flashed his header well wide. Shouts of handball were again waved away three minutes into added time as the ball bounced off arms and shoulders in the Sweden box.
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