Zlatan injured as Swedes go down 3-0
The Local · 2 Mar 2006, 09:04
Published: 02 Mar 2006 09:04 GMT+01:00
Only the late withdrawal of Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljunberg depleted a full-strength yellow-and-blue team.
The Irish looked solid throughout the game and dominated the early exchanges with Damien Duff forcing Alexander Östlund into a series of fouls that earned him a yellow card as early as the 19th minute.
Steven Reid, making a rare appearance in middle of the Irish midfield, followed him into the book ten minutes later.
While Ireland flashed a number of dangerous crosses into the Swedish box, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the only one to manage shots on goal in the first quarter, though both of them were tame. A back-post header by Kevin Doyle was the most threatening effort from Ireland.
The Swedes fashioned more dangerous incursions as the half went on and a delightful flick by Ibrahimovic set up Henrik Larsson for a volley which he blasted over from 10 yards.
Then, two minutes after Markus Rosenberg replaced the injured Ibrahimovic, Duff cut onto his right foot inside the box and struck a curling shot which took a deflection on the way to the net.
Ireland grew in confidence and Keane was well set before half-time to add to their lead but miss-hit his shot with time and space in the Swedish box.
But early in the second-half he atoned for his mistake, chasing past a square Swedish defence to volley into the net from 20 yards.
Ireland debutante manager Steve Staunton and Swedish counterpart Lars Lagerbäck made a raft of changes in the second half but the football continued to flow. Wayne Henderson in goal and Stephen Ireland added to the new caps and both performed well. Shortly after coming on both men were in the action with Henderson saving well from Larsson and Ireland flashing a shot a couple of feet wide.
Both teams put the ball into the box regularly as the game opened up but the Swedish failed to fashion much of the quality that has made them one of the best away teams in Europe while Ireland looked gradually more menacing.
When Miller struck in the 71st minute it proved a fitting way to round off the scoring for an Irish team that has much work ahead - but with just over three months until the World Cup, it's the Swedes who have the more immediate concerns.