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WORLDCUP

Sweden flop against ten man Trinidad

Sweden were on the receiving end of the first shock result of the World Cup on Saturday, only managing to draw 0-0 with ten-man Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad goalkeeper Shaka Hislop pulled off a string of fine saves to hold off Sweden, who charged forward in yellow wave after wave, following the dismissal of Avery John just after the start of the second half.

Hislop, the 37-year-old West Ham keeper, was called into the team at the last minute to replace Kelvin Jack who injured his knee in the warm-up – and he proved to be the star of the show as the Caribbean side, the smallest nation ever to reach the finals, battled for a point in the Group B clash.

It was a remarkable result for little Trinidad – but deeply frustrating for Sweden, who had counted on bagging three points before trickier games against Paraguay and England.

In temperatures hovering around a sweltering 30 degrees, Sweden had the best of the possession and Henrik Larsson just missed out on connecting with a smart cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 22nd minute.

On the half-hour mark, Anders Svensson got in behind the defence but failed to connect with a long through ball.

Trinidad rarely threatened with skipper and former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke pushed back to bolster the defence, but Carlos Edwards brought a smart save out of Rami Shaaban.

Five minutes before the break, Christian Wilhelmsson forced Hislop into his first serious save of the day and the West ham veteran then flung himself to his right to keep out an Ibrahimovic drive.

Trinidad were reduced to 10 men in the first minute of the second period when Avery John, who had already been booked for a 15th-minute foul on Wilhelmsson, lunged in with both feet on the same player and was red-carded by referee Shamsul Maidin.

Hislop then foiled Ibrahimovic again with a point-blank save before also denying substitute Marcus Allbäck with a stop at the feet of the Copenhagen attacker.

Sweden’s next match is against Paraguay on Thursday.

FOOTBALL

Swedish press hails ‘miracle in Berlin’

Sweden's stunning four-goal comeback to salvage a 4-4 draw against Germany in Berlin on Tuesday night prompted commentators to gush over what many considered an improbable footballing "miracle".

Swedish press hails 'miracle in Berlin'

After an hour of football, Sweden found themselves nursing a four-goal deficit and many fans wondered how bad the night would end.

But a beautiful goal off a header by captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 62nd minute sparked an unprecedented comeback for the Swedes, capped by Rasmus Elm’s game-tying goal in extra time, allowing the squad to leave the pitch with an unexpected draw against a team ranked second in the world.

“I’ve never watched a national team that was so totally outplayed then comeback and salvage a point,” crowed Expressen columnist Marcus Birro.

“A miracle. A total Miracle. With a capital M.”

Birro argued that Sweden’s footballers deserved “the Nobel Prize in everything”, before reflecting on whether Tuesday’s performance might prompt largely secular Swedes to reexamine their religious beliefs.

“According to several studies, Swedes don’t believe in God. How is that possible? Can anyone who saw the miracle in Berlin seriously claim that God doesn’t exist?” he asked

Johan Esk, sports columnist at broadsheet Dagens Nyheter (DN), spared no hyperbole in claiming the 4-4 draw was “Sweden’s biggest upset in footballing history”.

“Sweden created a bomb that will be heard throughout the footballing world,” he continued.

“Sweden went from being outplayed, outclassed, laughable bystanders to shocking heroes.”

According to Esk, Sweden “taught Germany and the entire footballing world that it doesn’t matter what the score is or what name is on the back of the opponents’ shirts”.

“Those who give up never have a chance. Those who never give up always have a chance to succeed. No matter how awful things look,” he wrote.

A jubilant Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, captured on film in the stands pumping his fists in a fit of football euphoria while a dejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked on, also praised the performance of Sweden’s national side.

“It was totally improbable,” he told the TT news agency following the match.

“I don’t know if Germany has ever lost a four goal lead before in one half at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.”

Meanwhile, Erik Niva, football columnist with tabloid Aftonbladet took aim at German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s collapse, which saw the normally solid performer let in four goals in thirty minutes.

“On a normal day at work, Manuel Neuer exudes self-confidence. Now he couldn’t catch a beachball,” wrote Niva.

He hailed Sweden’s performance as “one of the most improbably I’ve experienced in my life with Swedish football”.

The press in Germany also lambasted their national team’s performance, with Der Spiegel kicking off the criticism with the headline “60 minutes of heaven, 30 minutes of hell.”

READ MORE PRESS REACTION FROM GERMANY ON WWW.THELOCAL.DE

Columnist Mats Olsson from Expressen proclaimed the away draw against Germany was in a class by itself when it came to sporting “miracles”.

“For 45 minutes the Swedish national team looked like hedgehogs that had been paralyzed by a car’s headlights,” he said.

“I’ve never seen a sicker, more wild and wonderful match.”

The Local/dl

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