Sweden beat Argentina 4-1 at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Friday’s match for third place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in UAE. The Scandinavians were the better side from the opening whistle, Valmir Berisha again proving one of the top strikers at these finals with a three-goal day. It brings his total haul to seven goals in seven games - enough for the top-scorer award - as Sweden finish their first junior world finals with bronze.
Sweden were out in front early in the consolation under-card. Almost inevitably, it was Berisha – the Scandinavians’ goal machine here in UAE – who opened the scoring. Mirza Halvadzic kept the ball alive at the edge of the area before Carlos Strandberg, making his first start in UAE, chipped a clever ball over the top for the lurking Berisha to score his fifth of the tournament.
The South Americans had little to offer as the half wore on, and the Swedes were in the mood to grab a place on the podium. Gustav Engvall did well to win the ball at the edge of the Argentina box and cross low from the right, where Strandberg turned from provider to scorer with a perfect side-volley finish. They kept up the tempo too, and four minutes later it was 3-0. Berisha was on the spot again after Engvall dribbled 40 yards and hit the ball off the top of the upright. Like a true predator, the prolific No9 finished off from near the penalty spot.
A handful of half-chances here and there were prelude to Argentina’s first goal, which came in the last minute of the opening period. Rodrigo Moreira flicked a header on from Johan Ramhorn’s poor clearance and Lucio Compagnucci was on hand to hit home from close range to make it 3-1.
Unable to keep the momentum going, the Argentines - missing several key starters to suspension - faded again in the second half. A pinpoint cross from the right by Elias Andersson in the 57th minute was met by an unmarked Berisha, who headed home his hat-trick with total precision. His seventh goal of the finals was the last contribution he would make as he injured himself while scoring and had to limp off the pitch.
The game lost its pace after the fourth goal, with Argentina out of ideas and Sweden happy enough to keep the ball and absorb pressure. When the final whistle sounded, the Scandinavians – who’ve lit up the tournament with their football – celebrated what can only be called a wildly successful debut on the U-17 world scene.