England had failed to beat Sweden in seven previous competitive meetings and that looked like being extended to an eighth in Kyiv after Olaf Mellberg second half double cancelled out Andy Carroll’s headed opener before the break. Roy Hodgson threw Walcott on in the aftermath of Sweden’s second and his impact was immediate as he smashed an unstoppable strike past Andreas Isaksson before setting up Danny Welbeck for the winner to leave them just a point away from the last eight and send Erik Hamsen’s home.
It took just seven minutes for England to force Isaksson into action as Scott Parker forced the keeper into a full length save with a long-range strike after playing a neat one-two with Welbeck before the Manchester United frontman squandered a chance of his own heading James Milners cross wide. The Three Lions quickly took control of the game and deservedly snatched the lead with goal that was made in Liverpool. Picking the ball up on the right Steven Gerrard swung an angled ball into the box towards Carroll who rose highest above two defenders to power his header into the bottom corner.
Ashley Young then wasted a glorious chance to double England’s lead just before half time as Sweden turned the tables four minutes after the break with two goals in quick succession from Mellberg. A needless free kick, given away by Carroll 25-yards from goal, saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic blast the ball into the wall eventually falling to the former Aston Villa defender who’s shot eventually crossed the line despite Glen Johnson’s best efforts to keep it out. Just 10 minutes elapsed before Mellberg struck again as he found himself unmarked to head Sebastian Larsson’s free kick in from close range.
A change was required for England and Milner was hauled off to be replaced by Walcott and the Arsenal winger repaid his managers faith with a stunning equaliser three minutes after entering the fray. Sweden’s failure to suitably clear a corner saw the ball find its way to the Arsenal winger 20-yards from goal and he smashed a dipping strike past Isaksson. Joe Hart then maintained parity keeping out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s long range effort before Walcott’s penetrating run into the penalty area set up Welbeck who cleverly guided the ball into the net from close range to snatch victory.
Gerrard then passed up a late chance put the game result doubt but was denied by Isaksson as England held on to move second in Group D and requiring just a point against Ukraine on Tuesday to guarantee a quarter final berth.