Sweden celebrates first Euro U21 title victory
TT/AFP/The Local · 1 Jul 2015, 13:02
Published: 01 Jul 2015 06:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Jul 2015 13:02 GMT+02:00
Goalkeeper Patrik Carlgren saved two penalties in the shoot-out to lead Sweden to victory in Prague on Tuesday night.
The AIK Stockholm stopper sent a vociferous yellow-clad crowd at Prague's Eden stadium into raptures when he saved attempts by Ricardo Esgaio and William Carvalho for a 4-3 win in the shoot-out following a goalless draw after extra time.
His Portuguese counterpart Jose Sa, who let in a single goal in the entire tournament, only managed one save in the shoot-out.
Carlgren was elated at his side's success.
"It's insane, completely insane to win a Euro championship. We're writing Swedish history," he told uefa.com.
"It was a fantastic match from beginning to end. We knew they'd have a lot of the ball, but we played one hell of a match."
Sweden U21 Euros record: 2009: Semi-final 2011: Did not qualify 2013: Did not qualify 2015: Champions! pic.twitter.com/4JAhbfSh7m— bet365 (@bet365) June 30, 2015
Of William Carvalho's decisive spot kick, he added: "I had a feeling he'd go for that side, I went the right way and saved the penalty."
The win is one of Sweden's biggest sporting achievements. The Nordic nation came top of the table in the Winter Olympics in 1948 and got a ssilver in the World Ice Hockey Championships in 1981. One fan site for Zlatan Ibrahimovic joked that only other major win in the last three decades was the birth of the Swedish star striker.
Meanwhile the PSG and Sweden player gave his own emotional response to the victory.
"Yeeeees! Fantastic! Impressive!" he was quoted as saying by Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet following the Under-21 victory.
Sweden's biggest sports accomplishments: 1948: Olympic Champion 1958: Silver World Cup 1981: Zlatan born 2015: U21 Champion— Zlatan Ibrahimovic (@FactsofIbra) June 30, 2015
On Tuesday night, stories about the Nordic nation's victory went viral social media, with all ten topics on Twitter linked to the game.
Many fans said they now had hope that the victorious players could lead Sweden's main national side to more wins in future.
For years Sweden has asked "what will we do after Zlatan?" This U21 group is giving them the answer - go back to doing what they do best.— Philip O'Connor (@philipoconnor) June 27, 2015
Portugal had swept past Germany 5-0 in the semi-final, but Sweden's defence proved a harder nut to crack.
Playing their first under-21 final since 1994, Portugal created more scoring chances and went on an attacking spree early in the game but Pereira Ricardo missed Carlgren's right post narrowly with a low left-foot shot after two minutes.
Five minutes later, Sergio Oliveira hit the Swedish crossbar from a free kick.
Sweden, who last played an under-21 final in 1992, ventured forward on 12 minutes when Isaac Kiese Thelin headed into Sa's hands.
Sweden striker John Guidetti, who spent last season at Celtic, half-volleyed just over the bar on 52 minutes in the best scoring chance of the game.
Oliveira's low shot missed narrowly seconds later, while Carlgren stopped substitute Toze's low shot from 25 metres and another substitute, Iuri Medeiros, missed the target.
Joao Mario sent his shot over the bar five minutes from time and Guidetti's close-range shot was denied by Sa, who also intercepted a pass aimed by Guidetti at Kiese Thelin in front of goal.
Sweden put Portugal under pressure in extra time -- Abdul Rahman Khalili's shot missed the target narrowly with Sa beaten his next attempt went far wide.