NEWS
Tuesday June 19 2012
Ibra, Larsson stun France

A stunning strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a late finish from Seb Larsson floored France for Sweden at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, but Les Bleus still progress.

Sweden had nothing but pride to play for in the group after two previous defeats, but France knew that a draw or better would qualify them for the last eight, whilst even a defeat may not have eliminated them, depending on the result in the other game.

Sweden’s Erik Hamren fielded Emir Bajrami and Ola Toivonen instead of Johan Elmander and Rasmus Elm, whilst Laurent Blanc brought in Hatem Ben Arfa and Yann M’Vila for Yohan Cabaye and Jeremy Menez.

Toivonen had the first chance of the night from a cross, but his header from six yards out drifted wide of the opposite post. Sebastian Larsson then had a similar opportunity a minute later, but Hugo Lloris comfortably caught his headed attempt.

At the other end, Franck Ribery tested Andreas Isaksson’s reactions with a far-post run that demanded a low save from the Swedish shot-stopper.

Toivonen rounded Lloris and struck the outside of the post at the other end after latching on to a long ball that Philippe Mexes criminally misjudged.

Adil Rami decided to try his luck from all of 40 yards with a  free-kick, but saw the effort travel high over the goal. Later in the half, Ben Arfa showed Rami how to keep a shot from distance a little lower, sending a 30-yard effort just an inch above Isaksson’s crossbar.

A run and shot from Ribery drew a last-ditch saving tackle to deflect the ball behind, to briefly threaten a breakthrough in the game just a minute before the break.

As things stood at half-time, France were progressing through top of the group, with Sweden set for last place.

Karim Benzema was put through for the first chance of the second half but after cutting inside, the Real Madrid man curled his low effort wide of Isaksson’s far post.

Sweden took a surprise lead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after the Milan man connected perfectly with a Larsson cross through a mid-air scissor-kick to volley the ball low and past Lloris.

The Swedes nearly doubled that lead tow minutes later when Ibra found the run of Wilhelmsson with a cross, only for the half-time substitute to fire his shot straight at Lloris from five yards out. From the resulting corner Wilhelmsson then went close again with a flicked effort.

Samir Nasri went close for France with a rasping 20-yard effort that slipped through three Swedish defenders but just wide of the far post. Ribery then had a goal-bound effort blocked by a last-ditch tackle.

Mexes picked up a yellow for a foul from behind that means he is suspended for the team’s next game.

M’Vila was the first Frenchman to test Isaksson for a long period of play, when his swerving effort required the ‘keeper to knock it behind for a corner.

France missed the opportunity to appeal for a penalty, when Olof Mellberg appeared to handle the ball in tackling Mexes in the box.

Substituted Menez then found space in the penalty area for a shot, but he could only draw a save from Isaksson.

From the resuling corner, Blanc brought on Olivier Giroud, who could have immediately made an impact, but he pulled his free header two yards wide of the post when it was easier to score past a rooted Swedish goalkeeper.

Larsson then made sure of the result in stoppage time, after smashing in a rebound after sub Samuel Holmen’s original shot from a Wilhelmsson cross had struck the upright.

Sweden 2-0 France

Scorers: Ibrahimovic 54 (S), Larsson 91 (S)

Sweden: Isaksson, Granqvist, Mellberg, J. Olsson, M. Olsson; Svensson (Holmen 78), Kallstrom, Larsson; Ibrahimovic, Bajrami (Wilhelmsson 46), Toivonen (Wernbloom 78)

France: Lloris; Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Clichy; Nasri (Menez 77), Diarra, M'Vila (Giroud 83); Ben Arfa (Malouda 59), Benzema, Ribéry

Ref: Proenca (Portugal)

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!

FOOTBALL ITALIA RELATED NEWS

TODAY'S FRONT PAGES