Trinidad & Tobago made a magnificent World Cup finals debut on Saturday when they held Sweden to a goalless draw despite playing with 10 men for almost all the second half of their opening Group B game.
The Caribbean islanders, made up largely of players from the lower divisions of the English league, worked tirelessly to hold off their vastly more experienced opponents in the second game in the group after England [ Images ] had earlier beaten Paraguay 1-0.
Trinidad matched the Europeans stride for stride, even after defender Avery John was sent off 35 seconds into the second half.
Trinidad came closest to breaking the deadlock when substitute striker Cornell Glenn hit the bar near the hour mark.
It was a remarkable performance by a team who qualified for the finals for the first time after beating Bahrain in a playoff while Sweden are notable tournament performers.
The gulf in class was seemingly at its most apparent at the centre of Trinidad's defence where beanpole Dennis Lawrence and partner Brent Sancho of lowly English league clubs Wrexham and Gillingham were attempting to shackle Henrik Larsson [ Images ] and Zlatan Ibrahimovic [ Images ] - elite employees of Barcelona [ Images ] and Juventus [ Images ].
Sweden did create several reasonable first-half chances as Ibrahimovic fired over a cross just beyond Larsson, Freddie Ljungberg and Larsson put efforts over the bar while Trinidad keeper Shaka Hislop was able to tip over a Christian Wilhelmsson drive.
Trinidad rarely threatened, though Carlos Edwards did warm Rami Shaaban's hands with a crisp shot after 33 minutes.
The islanders' hopes of holding out for another 45 minutes seemed to disappear 35 seconds after the restart when left back John was sent off for a second booking following a two-footed lunge on Wilhelmsson.
The 10 men came close to taking a shock lead after 59 minutes when substitute striker Glen cracked a brilliant shot against the bar from wide right of the box with Shaaban beaten.
Moments later Hislop was on hand to smartly block a close-range Ibrahimovic effort.
Substitute Marcus Allback failed to get hold of his shot when well placed after 75 minutes and was then foiled brilliantly by Hislop when he poked goalwards five minutes later.