Georgia 2 - 0 Sweden: Sweden stunned by Kvaratskhelia knockout blows

Georgia 2 - 0 Sweden: Sweden stunned by Kvaratskhelia knockout blows

Georgia blew UEFA World Cup Qualification (WCQ) Group B wide open with a surprise 2-0 victory over group-topping Sweden, presenting Spain with a golden opportunity to leapfrog the 1958 World Cup runners-up.

Still on a high after their first WCQ win of the campaign against Kosovo last time out, Georgia displayed plenty of positivity early on, but almost shot themselves in the foot. Sloppiness at the back led to Zlatan Ibrahimović cutting out a backpass and teeing up Emil Forsberg, whose effort was saved by Giorgi Loria before Viktor Claesson’s follow-up was cleared off the line by Davit Khocholava.

 Swedish pressure started to build, and only an inspired Loria kept them at bay, this time producing a fantastic stop to deny Alexander Isak one-on-one. Victory was imperative for Sweden, who knew if they failed to win and Spain beat Greece later on in the evening, they would have to beat the 2010 World Cup winners in a final-day showdown to automatically book their place in Qatar next winter.

The visitors were left rueing their missed chances after the break when they were hit by a Georgia sucker punch. Robin Olsen got caught up in a bout of penalty box-pinball and, with the Swedish stopper out of position, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia pounced to lash home from close range and fire the hosts into an unlikely lead. Sweden’s response was muted, with nothing by way of clear-cut chances despite holding the knowledge that only a victory would heap the pressure on Spain. In contrast, Georgia were playing for nothing but pride, although that didn’t deter them as they looked to finish off their WCQ campaign with a memorable win.

Olsen produced a sensational save to thwart Kvaratskhelia doubling Georgia’s lead, but there was no stopping the 20-year-old moments later as he romped through on goal and confidently dispatched his second of the night to wrap up the game, ending Georgia’s six-game winless home run in the process. Sweden, meanwhile, face a big few days as their quest to claim that automatic qualification spot hangs in the balance.
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