In the first match of Group B in hot and humid Manaus, Sweden tied Colombia 2-2 on Thursday evening.
While Sweden had more possession in the first ten minutes of the match and was dealing nicely with Colombia’s high-pressing, it was the South American side who nearly got on the scoresheet first. A long diagonal pass fell to forward Andres Roa inside the penalty area who then struck a venomous volley that forced Swedish goalie Andreas Linde to make a diving fingertip save.
It didn’t take long after that though for Colombia to make a breathrough. Forward Dorlan Pabon slipped a perfectly weighted through-pass to one of Colombia’s overage stars, Captain Teofilo Gutierrez, who took a touch and calmly slotted the ball past Linde for the smooth finish and 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
Sweden almost found the tying goal in the 25th minute when Astrit Ajdarevic fired a left-footed shot just outside the box off an attempted header clearance by a Colombian defender. Ajdarevic’s shot was saved by Colombian goalie Christian Bonilla, who then swallowed up the rebound attempt from Swedish forward Mikael Ishak.
Throughout much of the first half, Sweden continued to have the majority of possession. But Colombia was content with letting the Swedes have the ball and hitting them on the counter attack. A perfect example of that came in the 32d minute when Pabon was played a pass down the left hand side where he then beat his defender inside the penalty area and ripped a shot right at Andreas Linde.
In the 43rd minute, Sweden would even the scoreline thanks to a 25-yard strike from distance into the upper corner from Ishak. He found himself in a pocket of space outside the penalty area and lasered a shot into the top corner, leaving Christian Bonilla with no chance. The two sides would head into the halftime break knotted up at 1-1.
After a sluggish opening ten minutes of the second half for both teams, the Scandinavians almost accidentally found the go-ahead goal. A mis-hit cross by Ajdarevic forced Bonilla to tip the ball over the goal as it appeared destined to float into the net at the backpost.
But in the 61st minute, Ajdarevic, one of Sweden’s overage players, found the back of the net with intent this time. A shot from 20 yards out by forward Robin Quaison was parried to the side by Bonilla, but Ajdarevic was in the right spot to pounce on the rebound and give Sweden a 2-1 lead.
In the 73rd minute, Colombia would draw level on a penalty kick by Pabon after a cross sent into the box bounced up and struck the hand of Swedish defender Joakim Nilsson. While Colombia lost the mojo that it had for spells in the first half, the side that defeated the United States to qualify for the tournament, was right back in the match at 2-2.
The final fifteen minutes saw a lot of back and forth action where tired legs created a game that became stretched out. Colombia almost snatched the winner in the 85th minute as a Pabon cross ended up at the feet of forward Harold Preciado. His attempt on frame was saved at point-blank range by Linde and the game ultimately ended with both teams earning a point.
After today’s entertaining match, with Japan and Nigeria still to play tonight, Colombia and Sweden are tied atop Group B with one point apiece.
Sweden’s next match is against Nigeria on Sunday at 6pm while Colombia battles with Japan at 9pm. Both games are at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus.