The Roma star fired home Eden Hazard’s cross to set up a meeting with Hungary in the First Knockout Round, sending Sweden home in the process.For the Scandinavians, the defeat marks the end of icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s international career, with the striker confirming his retirement at the end of the tournament.The opening exchanges saw plenty of end-to-end action, as Thomas Mounier did well to break from defence and launch a cross-field pass for Hazard. The captain cut the ball in for Axel Witsel, who could only blaze over.
Moments later, Sweden came close to snatching an early lead. Kim Kallstrom’s dangerous freekick ricocheted in the box before being met on the volley by Marcus Berg, forcing a point blank save from Thibaut Courtois.After such a bright start, the match became more cagey, although Belgium looked to get in behind with a number of crosses, to no avail. The dangerous Hazard played a fine one-two with Romelu Lukaku before teeing up Kevin De Bruyne, but his stinging effort was well held.Immediately up the other end of the field, Berg collected the ball before laying it off for Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box. The talismanic forward could not get a strong enough connection on his first-time strike however, see it fizzle wide.Lukaku came closest to breaking the deadlock, with a number of low crosses from out wide evading his outstretched foot by inches.
Sweden began the second half full of intent and dominated early proceedings. Kallstrom’s cross from deep was met by Ibrahimovic, but a difficult ball to control was nodded over. Victor Lindelof got forward well from right-back and sent in a dangerous low ball that was well dealt with by Thomas Vermaelen.Having been lackadaisical for much of the second period, Belgium burst into life on the hour mark with a rapid Carrasco counterattack, though his low cross was forced behind by Erik Johansson.De Bruyne lead a second counter and hit a wicked shot that was arrowing into the bottom corner, until Isaksson palmed it away expertly.Looking to add to his brace against Ireland, Lukaku broke free and got himself beyond the defence. With just the goalkeeper to beat, the Everton striker fired at Isaksson. A minute later, Lukaku found himself in the same position but made no mistake in hitting the back of the net, only to be ruled offside.With less than 10 minutes remaining, Kallstrom’s corner was met by Granqvist’s header, only for De Bruyne to clear off the line.Sweden’s hopes were completely dashed with five minutes left, as Hazard burst down the left and sent a cross through a crowded box. The loose ball fell to Nainggolan on the edge of the area and the midfielder unleashed a stunning volley into the bottom corner.- Fact sheet:0 – Sweden: Isaksson; Lindelöf, Erik Johansson, Granqvist, Martin Olsson; Larsson (Durmaz, m.70), Ekdal, Källmström, Forsberg (Zengin, m.83); Berg (Guidetti, m.63), Ibrahimovic.1 – Belgium: Courtois; Meunier, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Nainggolan, Witsel; Carrasco (Mertens, m.71), De Bruyne, Hazard (Origi, m.93); Lukaku (Benteke, m.87).Goal: 0-1: 83′: NainggolanReferee: Felix Brych (Germany).Yellow cards: Ekdal, E. Johansson, Witsel.Allianz Riviera (Nice): 34.011