Emotional Sweden manager Janne Andersson refused to blame defender Marcus Danielson, who was sent off in extra time as Sweden lost 2-1 to Ukraine in their Euro 2020 last-16 tie at Hampden Park on Tuesday to bring their tournament to an end.
The Swedes had plenty of chances to decide the game in normal time, hitting a post and the bar in the second half, but Danielson was dismissed for a dangerous challenge nine minutes into extra time and Ukraine scored late on to snatch victory.
Asked what he had said to Danielson after the final whistle, Andersson struggled to hold back tears.
“I have only hugged him,” he told Sweden’s TV4.
“This is the worst thing I have experienced in a football context, it was brutal. I think we were the better team and to get hit with a sending-off, that’s tough in itself.
“They (the players) fight like they did and then to get knocked out in the closing seconds, it’s so awful and brutal, it doesn’t get any worse when we talk sports.”
Winger Emil Forsberg, who scored four goals at Euro 2020 for the Swedes, described the scene in the locker room for broadcaster Sveriges Radio.
“There’s a very sad, sorry atmosphere in the dressing room right now, not much talk, we are all very disappointed, it feels awful. This is not what we came here for, but that’s football,” he said.
“We were the better team, we created the better chances, (hit the) post, the crossbar, it’s sad, and the red card affects (the game),” Forsberg added.
Andersson told reporters that he did not initially think that Danielson deserved to have a free kick awarded against him, let alone a red card, but added that colleagues in the stands had told him the sending-off was fair.
“We were so close to something really good, we come out of it with a passing grade. 2004 was the last time that Sweden got out of the group stage,” Andersson said.
“I think it is well done by the lads, overall I think we played a good tournament, even if it tastes sour right now.”
Ukraine move on to a quarterfinal meeting with England, who knocked the Swedes out in the last-eight at the 2018 World Cup.
“It would have been fun to try to get revenge against them in a new quarterfinal, but that’s not how it’s going to be,” a dejected Andersson said.