During a chilly evening at the jam-packed Stade de France, Didier Deschamps' French side came from behind to oust Janne Andersson's resolute and slick Sweden side in a game that came alive in the second half.
The win handed France the top spot in their qualification group, that was previously topped by both Sweden and France. After RB Leipzig star Emil Forsberg had handed Sweden a lead early in the second-half, France scored twice to beg the men in yellow back in less than ten minutes to assert their dominance on the game.
The men in blue, who had last come together during their solid 1-0 triumph over Danny Blind's Netherlands that saw Paul Pogba score a scorcher, played in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Olivier Giroud, who has seen a limited amount of action for Arsenal so far this season, started up front while Tottenham Hotspur new signing Moussa Sissoko started on the right. The midfield duo of Blaise Matuidi and Pogba sat in front of the back four that consisted of Monaco man Djibril Sidibe, Raphael Varane, Laurent Koscielny and the experienced Patrice Evra.
The Blagult, on the other other hand, played in the 4-4-2 formation, that saw the pair of Ola Toivonen and former Manchester City man John Guidetti feature up top. RB Leipzig's in form man Emil Forsberg started on the right and flailing Hamburg's midfielder Albin Ekdal started in the midfield.
Drab first half
The opening two minutes of the game suggested how the game was going to pan out. France kept possession in their midfield, trying to move it forward by dictating play. Sweden soon won the ball back and came close to splitting the French defense open with the help of three or four quick passes across the final third. And France's attack clicked early on. After Sidibe had worked out room to run into on the left, Pogba found himself on the edge of the box with room for a shot. But the world's most expensive player's left footed effort was put wide.
Five minutes later, combination play by the duo of Matuidi and Pogba saw the latter pick out Dimitri Payet on the left. The West Ham man went past the full back but his cross was batted away by Sweden stopper Robin Olsen. And around two minutes later, a golden opportunity fell Sweden's way as a free-kick from the left flank caught the French defense out. John Guidetti failed to get the touch that could've guided the ball into the back of the net, as France cleared their lines.
And France had a chance go ahead once again, but Payet's curler from the left flank was parried away by Olsen after Sissoko had set the former Marseille man up to tee a shot away.
Sweden slowly grew into the game and the sharp passing around the box was looking increasingly likely to open the French back four up. And impressive combination down their left flank, saw Jimmy Durmaz find John Guidetti, who was making a run in behind. The forward found Ola Toivonen, who shot from close range was blocked bravely by Laurent Koscielny.
Sweden's solid 4-4-2 shape allowed France to play in the wide areas more often than in the central areas as Didier Deschamps men looked to drill crosses through Sissoko's flank continously in the first half. But bad crossing made sure that Sweden were happy in playing that way. The organization in the middle of the park, made it tough for France to break down the firmly packed 4-4-2 formation.
A second-half that brought the game to life
The second half saw France come out with the strategy of playing in small triangles around the box, which is something they didn't do in the first half. Coming close to the goal and stringing passes together rather than shooting from range wasn't the solution, they probably realized. A header by Griezmann and one of Giroud sailed over the bar.
And Sweden, who were breaking with purpose everytime they won the ball, did the same in around the 52nd minute. Emil Forsberg's cross from the left, after he had gone past Sidibe, almost picked out Guidetti but Hugo Lloris's left hand batted the ball away quickly.
Minutes later, it was the RB Leipzig man, whose brilliance handed Sweden a lead. The 25-year-old's Cristiano Ronaldo-esque free-kick swirled past Hugo Lloris, who was left to gaze at it. The lead didn't last too long though as Manchester United man Paul Pogba brought France level two minutes after Forsberg's stunning free-kick. Payet's corner from the left met Varane's head and took a touch off Pogba, before leaving Olsen for dead in goal.
And the French almost took the lead a minute later, as they came alive and Stade de France turned boisterous. Varane cracked a low shot from long-range at Olsen, who couldn't catch it properly. The ball nearly fell to Giroud, who couldn't reach it before Olsen could bat it away for a corner.
And it was Olsen who was at fault for France's second, that came in the 65th minute. Sissoko's cross from the right was aimed towards Griezmann, who was well marked by two Swede defenders. Olsen came for the ball but a blatant miss left Dimitri Payet with an open goal. And the winger made no mistake in slotting the ball into the bottom corner, handing France a crucial lead.
Sweden then started committing men forward, leaving their midfield to be overrun by Pogba, Griezmann and Matuidi. Janne Andersson's men nearly conceded the third, but Blaise Matuidi's stinging shot from some distance out was caught well by Olsen, who had seen it all the way through. An opportunity to seal all three points came in the 85th minute after Payet had setup Griezmann, who had a pop at goal as the shot meered past Olsen's right hand post.
But the game wasn't over. Sweden's chance to get something out of the game came a minute after Griezmann's miss. Toivonen's wonderfully weighted pass over the top had fallen to Thelin, who failed to strike it properly and Hugo Lloris could only watch it go out of play. And as the chance went begging, most knew that it couldn't have gotten better than that- the opportunity to draw level. A minor, late attempt to get the equalizer yielded nothing but stiff opposition from the French defense.