2020 European Championship Qualifying, Group Stage
  • Marcus Berg (18')
  • Robin Quaison (34')

Sweden clinch Euro 2020 spot after match was stopped for racism protocol

Sweden's joy at qualifying for Euro 2020 thanks to a 2-0 win away to Romania on Friday was tarnished by the racist abuse suffered by their striker Alexander Isak when he replaced Marcus Berg in the 78th minute.

The game was stopped briefly by the referee and an announcement was made over the public address system.

"I heard a number of racist shouts from the stands, and I asked the referee if he heard what was happening. He hadn't heard anything," the 20-year-old Isak, whose parents are from Eritrea, told Swedish radio.

"A few minutes later he stopped the game and asked. We had a small discussion, the match went on and I am OK with that, and I'm happy we won. Obviously it hurts, it's a shame but we were prepared for it."

Undaunted by the taunting from the stands, Isak continued to seek possession and had the ball at his feet as the final whistle went to confirm Sweden's qualification as runners-up behind Spain in Group F.

"I don't let things like that affect me in that way. It's better to ignore it. There will always be idiots around, it's better not to give them the attention they are looking for," the 20-year-old said.

Friday's result secured second spot in Group F for Sweden with 18 points. Spain, who had sealed a place in the Euro 2020 finals last month, top the standings with 23 points from nine games after thrashing Malta 7-0. Romania are third with 14 points.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson was moved to tears by his side's performance, saying: "This is so fantastic, it can't be true. What players I have. I am so incredibly happy and proud.

"I had tears in my eyes when there was two minutes to go. That we are going to the Euros is one thing, that the players did it together is fantastic, unbelievably fantastic."

Striker Berg, also speaking to Sweden's TV4, added: "There was a lot of pressure today, there weren't many that thought we could come here and beat them 2-0... I'm completely empty, it's going to take a while before it sinks in."

Berg put the Swedes ahead, giving home keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu no chance, with his 21st international goal -- a trademark header following a cross from Emil Forsberg in the 18th minute.

Midfielder Robin Quaison wrapped up the points with a cool finish 16 minutes later with Berg turning provider.

The visitors continued to dominate proceedings after the break with Albin Ekdal rattling the crossbar with a thundering shot midway through the second half.

Romania, lacking ideas and urgency, failed to create clear-cut chances at the National Arena.

Sweden travel to Stockholm on Saturday ahead of their final group game against Faroe Islands at the Friends Arena on Monday.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.