Hanna Bennison comes off bench for key Sweden victory against Switzerland

Sweden took a vital step towards maintaining their 100% record of reaching the knockout stages at European Championships with a hard-fought and compelling 2-1 win in balmy conditions at Bramall Lane.

Goals from Fridolina Rolfö and the substitute Hanna Bennison ensured Peter Gerhardsson’s side edged nearer to the quarter-finals, against a team who battled hard until the end and were hit by a stomach bug this week.

Nils Nielsen said of his Swiss team: “We spoke about Sweden tactically and prepared for it, but doing it online is not the same.”

The result felt cruel on the Swiss who had two valid penalty shouts, including one in the eighth minute when Magda Eriksson was adjudged to have taken down Noelle Maritz.

Upon closer inspection the referee, Marta Huerta de Aza, reversed her decision. It wouldn’t be her last controversial call of the half; another eight minutes later and this time it was the Sweden No 9 Kosovare Asllani claiming a stray hand had taken the sting out of her shot at goal.

The Blågult did not let the chaotic start derail their attack. Instead they ploughed on, through Stina Blackstenius. She had the first real chance of the game in the 20th minute with a fiery, low shot at goal. Her teammates took it as a call to action and soon mounted their own individual charges.

Rolfö seemed to take it out on the Swiss left flank. She was bypassing her marker Maritz with ease, following up galloping drives towards the byline with inviting crosses. Gerhardsson said Rolfö “was an example of our attack coming together, with pace and skill on the flanks; her goal was deserved”.

If there was even a sliver of hope, it came via Ramona Bachmann. On the half-hour she almost punished a sloppy back pass, producing a fine save from Hedvig Lindahl. Bachmann could not punish the error, but she gave her side much-needed fervour in the face of an unrelenting Swedish attack.

On the other side of half-time, Gerhardsson’s team ramped up the pressure, probing at the Swiss back four and finally getting the first goal of the game. It was Rolfö again who slipped away from Maritz in routine fashion, sliding the ball into the bottom corner – all while the grass was still drying from the half-time sprinkler action.

Cue the drama. Two minutes after the restart , the Swiss equalised through Bachmann. A majestically curled effort from the edge of the box managed to evade the Swedish defenders and the scores were once again level.

Thanks to that goal, Switzerland started attacking more centrally and for a while it yielded results. But for a team who had spent the week combating a fast-spreading gastrointestinal illness, they seemed far too willing to dive into stomach-churning moments in their own defensive half – such as allowing possession to be turned over so that Bennison could whip in an electric shot from the edge of the box to make it 2-1 11 minutes from time.

The entire movement building up to the goal perfectly epitomised the collective Swiss performance. Encouraging in moments, but blindsided defensively by a superior Swedish attack.