A packed Råsunda stadium was stunned by the opening goal from Iceland in the 25th minute, a walloping strike by Kari Arnason from a full 40 metres.
FIFA’s complicated qualification system meant that Sweden would almost certainly qualify as one of the best runners-up. But fans were craving the certainty of victory – and the confidence of heading to next summer’s tournament in Germany on the back of a win.
They did not have to wait long. Four minutes later the Zlatan show, as Sweden’s frothing media put it, began.
The Juventus man opened his routine with a goal in the 29th minute, and then helped craft a ‘dream goal’ for senior striker Henrik Larsson to volley home three minutes before the break.
Kim Källström added the third for Lars Lagerback’s side in injury time.
Sweden finished level on 24 points with Croatia but the Croatians topped the group because of their two victories over the Swedes in head-to-head meetings.