Sweden snags 2-0 win over Kazakhstan
Published: 12 Sep 2012 09:58 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Sep 2012 09:58 GMT+02:00
A thundering first-half volley from Rasmus Elm put Sweden on the path to a 2-0 victory over Kazakhstan on Tuesday night as the team began its campaign to qualify for the 2014 football World Cup.
While Sweden took control of the match early, it took some time before the squad showed much spark for the roughly 20,000 fans that filled Swedbank stadium in Malmö.
In the 37th minute, however, hometown hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic, crossed the ball into the Kazakhstan penalty area from the right side, prompting a failed clearing by a Kazakh defender which landed at the feet of Mikael Lustig.
Lustig's attempted misdirected shot attempt turned out to be a perfect pass to the advancing Elm, whose powerful volley left the Kazakh goal keeper Andrey Sidelnikov without a chance.
Play continued at a low tempo in the second half, although Sweden managed to create a number of chances, including a close-range header by Ibrahimovic which Sidelnikov nevertheless managed to block.
Ibrahimovic was involved some additional second-half drama when he drew a yellow card after exchanging words with the head referee following a collision between Lustig and Kazakhstan's Heinrich Schmitgal.
"The referee crossed the line. I was forced to react," Ibrahimovic told the Expressen newspaper.
While the Paris Saint-Germain striker failed to find the goal, his nifty pass to Marcus Berg in extra time put Sweden up 2-0, giving the crowd and his teammates something else to celebrate.
Despite the victory, trainer Erik Hamren felt his club could have performed better against a team ranked only 142 in the world by FIFA.
"We didn't have the match we had hoped for. In terms of how we played, we've had better matches," Hamren told TV4 after the match.
Sweden's next match in Group C qualifying play is scheduled for October 12th when it meets the Faroe Islands before squaring off with German a few days later.