England Futsal’s first game against Sweden ended in disappointment as they lost by 3-1 at the Copper Box Arena.
Peter Sturgess’s side came into the game on the back of an impressive unbeaten run of eight games and were looking to build on that momentum following the disappointment of missing out so narrowly in the Euro Qualifiers in Malta.
Equally, a strong Swedish opposition were looking to bounce back from their similar European Qualification disappointment.
England 1-3 Sweden
International Futsal Match
7.30pm, Friday 27 February 2015
Copper Box Arena, London
By Stephen Brown
The game also heralded a series of firsts, with England hosting an international at the impressive Copper Box Arena, a live online broadcast and a record crowd of 878.
England made a bright opening, creating a number of chances only to be thwarted by Solberg in the Sweden goal, who would figure more as the game developed.
But the visitors grew into the game and opened the scoring following a swift counter-attack in the ninth minute through Kristian Legiec, who continued his rich vein of form after scoring four goals in the Euros.
The Three Lions struggled to find any rhythm or penetration to the play that had served them so well in recent matches, with several opportunities spurned by the impressive Solberg.
And Sweden capitalised further with 13 seconds left in the first half, as Mathias Eteus scored with a superb finish to leave England with an enormous challenge after the break.
The second half didn’t start how Sturgess would have wanted following his team talk though, and it was Sweden who came out full of confidence and impetus to extend their lead with Eteus getting his second goal of the game.
This spurred England on as they found some quality and fluency to their passing, and rained shots on the visitor’s goal only to find Solberg up to the challenge.
But with seven minutes remaining, Agon Rexha tapped home to finally get England on the score sheet following good work from Stuart Cook.
England continued to put pressure on their visitors but it just wasn’t their day as Cook crashed the underside of the bar before seeing the ball bounce out to safety.
The final whistle left England ruing several missed opportunities and a clinical edge to their play, which on another day would have seen a closer score line.
The beauty of a double-header international means England have the chance to reverse the score in Saturday afternoon’s fixture.
England: James Dalton (GK), Ben Mortlock (c), Agon Rexha , Doug Reed, George Nash, Raoni Medina, David Jennings, Luke Ballinger, Will Rooke, James Webb, Richard Ward , Stuart Cook, Jordan Parker (GK), Guillermo Wallace.
Goals: Rexha (33)
Sweden: Marcus Gerd Rentzhog (GK), Nicklas Asp (c), Sargon Abraham, Dana Kuhi, Hanna Abraham, Patrik Burda, Mathias Etéus , Dida Rashidi, Kristian Legiec , Dan Mönell, Simon Chekroun, Christopher Solberg (GK), Christoffer Jönsson, Luciano Lorca.
Sweden: Legiec (9), Eteus (19, 25)