Sweden 2 v 2 England (World Cup 2006) (20.06.2006)
England’s final group game came against bogey team Sweden at the Rhein Energie Stadion in Cologne. Luckily both teams had already qualified for the knockout stages – all that could be determined from this game was who would top the group.
Based in Bonn for this game, we travelled to Cologne by train arriving with plenty of time to spare ahead of the 9pm kickoff. The early part of the afternoon was spent in the old town on a pub crawl – where the streets were once again packed with England fans. However this time it was double busy as Germany were playing that afternoon as well. With no love lost between the two nations it wasn’t long before tensions started to rise.
As the drink consumption increased and the Germany fans started to filter out onto the streets celebrating their 3-0 win over Ecuador, there was a slightly uneasy feeling building. It was one of those where you hope it will pass off without incident, but do you want to be amongst if it there was one?
We turned up to the stadium two hours before kickoff anxious to find Morgo a ticket for the game. Unlike the other games we’d been to, it proved very difficult to get hold of a ticket and there seemed to be very few touts about for this match. There were a few fans that had spare tickets for sale, and in the end Morgo had to go for this option paying 450 euro’s for the privilege.
The game itself didn’t disappoint and was by far the best of the three group games. England twice took the lead before being pegged back by Sweden and had to end up settling for a 2-2 draw.
Joe Cole scored arguably the goal of the tournament with a wonder strike from 35 yards – a looping effort on the volley that was hit from the left side of the pitch but flew into the far top right corner. I have been lucky enough to see some great goals ‘live’, but not many have given me such an adrenaline rush as this one did. I think being emotionally attached to the team, and seeing one of your own score a wonder goal like that massively heightens the sense of jubilation compared to being a neutral and experiencing the same goal. I ended up surging down to the front row of the stand (shades of the Argentinean fans goal celebrations you sometimes see on TV!) only for Joe Cole to come right over in front of us to celebrate. I’m sure he heard me shouting my head off in celebration!
After going one nil up, Sweden equalised early in the 2nd half through Marcus Allback (51’), before we thought Gerrard had won the game for England with his finish in the 85th minute. However there was to be a late twist as Henrik Larsson slotted in the equaliser in the last minute. Two defensive mistakes had cost England the win, however the draw was enough to see us progress into the knock out phase.