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Euro 2016: Italy through thanks to goal by Eder

(AGI) Rome, June 17 - After 88 minutes of not exactly scintillating football, an...

Euro 2016: Italy through thanks to goal by Eder
Italia-Svezia 1-0 

(AGI) Rome, June 17 - After 88 minutes of not exactly scintillating football, an unexpected solo burst by Eder, reminiscent of Baggio's goal against Bulgaria in USA '94, gave Italy its decisive 1-0 lead over Sweden and put them through to the knockout stages of the Euro 2016. There were hardly any salient moments in the match before the Italian-Brazilian player's late goal, with only a shot by Pelle' (who was substituted in the second half) and a header by Parolo that struck the crossbar, while among the Swedes not even Ibrahimovic dazzled, missing a chance to score in front of an open goal (though granted he was offside). Italian manager Conte played a waiting game, with his side showing less movement than in the win over Belgium. Conte only made one change to his starting formation, with Florenzi replacing Darmian on the left wing. Sweden fielded an audacious 4-2-4 formation that often forced Candreva and Florenzi to stay back to form a five-man-strong defensive line and weakened the midfield, with Giaccherini hardly touching the ball. Florenzi and Candreva got results when they finally started pushing ahead after a timid start. Candreva was notable in his defensive role as well, handling Olsson and Forsberg and putting in a good performance overall. De Rossi displayed his wealth of experience, recovering stray balls, haranguing Ibrahimovic and firing long passes over Sweden's defence, but Pelle' and Eder's movement was somewhat lacking, and at least a few of the Southampton striker's passes went grossly astray. Unsurprisingly, Conte already had Zaza warming up 25 minutes into the match. A highlight reel would offer little, with only two crosses by Sweden: Bonucci out-muscled Ibrahimovic the first time, while the Swedish striker headed the ball the second - but missed the goal. Italy also created almost no chances, with Florenzi and Candreva driving into Sweden's goal area a few times, but Pelle' and Eder proving unresponsive. The first half was hard-fought but unexciting, with Sweden having the most ball possession (59 percent). Neither team made changes over the interval, but Italy's start to the second half was encouraging: the first successful exchange between Pelle' and Eder freed the former for a shot, but it went wide of the goal. After 82 minutes Italy finally found room to strike again, with a cross by Giaccherini from the left finding Parolo, who hit the crossbar. Sweden seemed fatigued and were punished at the 88th minute: a well-placed header by Zaza freed a path for Eder, who rushed past a defender and fired a shot that pierced the net to the right of Isaksson. "It was a hard, difficult match," Conte admitted afterwards. "We definitely struggled more in the first half, they were better at closing off the spaces and always got to the ball before us. Still, we never conceded anything in either half, and we had all the real chances: we hit the crossbar, scored a goal, and could have scored a second." "Who'd have thought we'd get through after just two matches? We did and that makes us proud," he commented. The man of the match was Eder, who got his payback against those who felt he didn't belong on the squad. "Football's like that, you can have ups and downs over the year but joyous moments like these too; it's what makes football beautiful. The work I put in is bearing fruit, I worked a lot at home for this Euro and I made sure I was ready," he declared. (AGI). .