With both teams guaranteed to advance to the semifinals of the under-21 European Championships with a draw, Sweden and Portugal essentially stopped playing in the 90th minute to ensure a 1-1 tie.
Portugal had a 1-0 lead late in the game when Sweden’s Simon Tibbling tied it up at 1-1 in the 89th minute. After that, both teams stopped pushing forward. Portugal held the ball near the center circle for all of stoppage time, passing it back and forth now and then, and Sweden stood around and let them run out the clock.
After the game, Sweden’s Victor Nilsson Lindelöf admitted to Expressen that after his team’s late equalizing goal he talked to a Portugal player about playing for a tie.
“I just told Bernardo Silva that we would take it easy,” he said.
It makes total rational sense for both teams to play for a draw in that situation, but that doesn’t make it any less absurd to watch. Here’s what it looked like (via Metro):
A user on Reddit uploaded a sped-up version of the final three minutes. The teams barely move around after a Portugal throw-in at the beginning of stoppage time:
This is about as close as Sweden got to pressing Portugal in the last three minutes:
With the draw, Sweden and Italy finished tied on points in the group standings, but since Sweden beat Italy 2-1 earlier in the tournament, they advanced and Italy was eliminated:
This sort of scenario is relatively common in international competitions, but rarely are teams so blatant about it.
After the game, Italy’s Stefano Sturaro tweeted, “Dogs celebrate on the corpses of lions, thinking they have won, but lions remain lions and dogs stay dogs.”
The Italian media has accused the two teams of “cheating.”
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