Trinidad & Tobago pulled off an unexpected result when they held Sweden to a 0-0 draw in Dortmund.
Reduced to ten men for the entire second half, the Caribbean side defended valiantly to hold the Swedes and collect a point in their first ever World Cup appearance.
For Sweden, the outcome will be regarded as a humiliating result, coming as it does against the smallest nation at this year‘s finals. Their chances of progressing to the knockout stage must now be considered in the balance and with games against Paraguay and England to come, an unlikely exit cannot be ruled out.
In contrast to the earlier game in Group B there was a real energy from the off to this encounter, with both teams displaying a verve that was absent in England’s laboured win over Paraguay.
Sweden began brightly, forcing two corners in the opening couple of minutes and they almost took an early lead when Larsson went close with a free-kick that sailed just past the post.
The enigmatic Ibrahimovic attempted an acrobatic overhead kick which drifted past the post after a wonderful run from Wilhelmsson. Minutes later the Juventus striker almost set up the opener but his cross was inches beyond the outstretched leg of Larsson.
Despite being under almost constant pressure, Trinidad and Tobago launched their own occasional attacking forays, although with Stern John ploughing a lone furrow up front, Shaaban in the Swedish goal was rarely tested. Carlos Edwards provided brief respite when he tested Shaaban from distance but the keeper saved comfortably.
As half-time approached Sweden began to grow in authority and Larsson almost broke the deadlock when connected with Ljungberg’s cross, but his header flashed over the bar. Hislop then had to be alert to parry a fierce drive from Wilhelmsson. Moments later, the West Ham keeper was again in action to deny a snap-shot from. Ibrahimovic.
The second half began in dramatic fashion when from the kick-off, Avery John was handed a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Wilhelmsson. Reduced to ten men for the entire second half Trinidad & Tobago had their backs against the wall but they responded to adversity with a courageous display.
Trinidad & Tobago coach Leo Beenhakker responded to the sending off in bold fashion by bringing on a striker Cornell Glen to offer support to John up front. Glen made an immediate impact when he struck the bar with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.
The ball was swept upfield and Ibrahimovic was thwarted at close range by the impressive Hislop.
Lars Lagerback introduced a third striker Magnus Allback as his side chased the elusive opening goal. With Allback playing up front alongside Ibrahimovic, Larsson adopted a withdrawn role and began to orchestrate the play for Sweden.
Allback went twice on a couple of occasions but as the game entered the final twenty minutes, Trinidad & Tobago, with Birchall and Yorke doing sterling work in midfield, looked relatively comfortable holding on at 0-0.
With ten minutes remaining, Sweden carved open the Trinidad & Tobago defence, but again Hislop was on hand to make a wonderful save from Allback.
As the final whistle approached Sweden increased the pressure and at times Trinidad & Tobago looked like they would capitulate, but Beenhakker’s men defended tenaciously. It wasn’t always pretty but the dedication and commitment was admirable and in Carlos Edwards they had the outstanding performer on the pitch.
The result will be seen as an embarrassment for Sweden but such an assessment would do an injustice to what was an outstanding performance by Trinidad & Tobago.
Sweden: Shaaban, Linderoth, Mellberg, Lucic, Edman, Ljungberg, Alexandersson, Anders Svensson, Wilhelmsson, Ibrahimovic, Larsson.
Subs: Allback 62 (for Svensson) Kallstrom 79 (for Linderoth) Jonson 79 (for Wilhelmsson)
Bookings: Larsson 90.
Trinidad &Tobago: Hislop, Avery John, Sancho, Lawrence, Gray, Birchall, Edwards, Theobald, Samuel, Stern John, Yorke.
Subs: Glen 53 (on for Samuel), Whitley 66 (for Theobald)
Bookings: A John, Yorke 74
Red card: : A John
Referee: Shamsul Maidin (Singapore)