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Larsson: Sweden will learn lessons of Irish defeat

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16:45 CET+01:00
Henrik Larsson is confident that Sweden will have absorbed the lessons of a 3-0 friendly defeat to Ireland before they begin their World Cup campaign this summer.

Lars Lagerbäck's highly-rated Swedes were comprehensively beaten and at times outplayed by the Irish, who handed new manager Steve Staunton a dream start to his reign in charge with victory over the World Cup qualifiers.

Barcelona striker Larsson struggled to make an impact against the Irish after a lively start to the game, but he insists that the Swedes will return to form before the Finals begin in June.

Larsson said: "Some days it doesn't work and you can't do anything about it, but we were beaten by a better side, simple as that. I don't see it as a blow for our World Cup hopes at all because we have great confidence in our team and squad."

Sweden faced the Irish as preparation for their World Cup Group B game against England in Cologne on June 20 and Larsson admits that the more physical aspect of British and Irish teams is something that the Swedes must learn to cope with.

He said: "We know that we didn't play well and we have to sit down and see what we did wrong and try to do it better when it really matters.

"We have to be prepared when we play physical teams like Ireland and know that it's going to be tough for us. We all know that, we're experienced professionals."

Lagerbäck's team, who were so assured defensively on their way to qualification for the World Cup, found the pace and trickery of Ireland's Damien Duff virtually impossible to deal with as the home side highlighted the fact that they will be one of the best teams not in Germany this summer.

Sweden defender Erik Edman admitted that his team's defensive failings proved their downfall at Lansdowne Road.

He said: "You have to say we played really badly against a team who played really well. It's as simple as that, but Ireland have an interesting team with some great young players.

"Damien Duff was having fun all night and Robbie Keane was great as well. They played a bit smarter than us, they were fighting for the second ball and we didn't do that really.

"We knew they were a typical British side and we knew how the game would be, but we have to come back stronger and improve a lot."

Captain Olof Mellberg insisted that Sweden's problems were caused by the excellent Irish, who produced arguably their best performance since beating Holland in Amsterdam two years ago.

Mellberg said: "We didn't perform to our standard and we are disappointed, but credit should go to Ireland. They played really well and they were really up for it under a new manager."

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AFP

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