Ljungberg: Swedish fans were the best ever

Swedish star Freddie Ljungberg doesn't often score with his head - but Thursday's effort in the dying moments of his country's 1-0 victory over Paraguay in Group B will be worth a place in his scrapbook.

A goalless draw was on the cards, leaving Swedish qualification hopes hanging by a thread after they drew a blank against Trinidad and Tobago when Ljungberg nodded in from close range to send an estimated 45,000 compatriots berserk in the Olympic Stadium.

“I think we played quite well and much better than against Trinidad and Tobago. we created a lot of chances and in the end we scored,” Ljungberg said after being named man of the match.

Sweden now have four points and will take their place in the last 16 even if they lose to England in their final group game – unless Trinidad and Tobago can shock Paraguay, whereupon it would go down to goal difference or even goals scored.

To avoid that scenario a draw will do against an England side coached by compatriot Sven-Göran Eriksson’s minimalist 100-percenters.

But a win would give the Swedes the group success and a theoretically weaker rival in the next round, either hosts Germany or Ecuador.

“It’s going to be a massive game – I think both teams want to win the group,” said Ljungberg, who had made the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this week after a training session bust-up with captain Olof Mellberg – the second successive World Cup finals it had happened.

“It’s going to be difficult.”

On his rare header, Arsenal star Ljungberg told Sweden’s TV4 television, asked when he last headed a goal: “About a year ago, so it felt good”.

“My first goal in the national team was a header but I can’t recall any more – I might be a man with a bad memory!”

On the England match, he added: “It will be an interesting game. We know one point is enough but at the same time you want to win.

“We haven’t advanced from the group stage yet,” said Lagerbäck, who said watching from the sidelines had been tough as the clock ticked down.

“It’s always frustrating sitting on the bench creating goalscoring chances and you can’t put them in the net. But (Sweden) not creating goalscoring chances is even worse.”

Swedish coach Lars Lagerbäck played down the extent of a leg injury to playmaker Zlatan Ibrahomovic, substituted at half time after an ineffectual display by the Juventus star’s standards.

“Zlatan had an injury in his leg and we didn’t want to risk anything because the medical staff said if he carried on he might not be able to come back during the World Cup so we decided to take him off.”

With some 45,000 Swedes cheering the team on at Berlin’s Olympia Stadium, Ljungberg said the match was the greatest he had ever experienced.

“Absolutely the best. The fans are never this crazy when we play at home. All the Swedes were screaming like mad,” he said.

Substitute Marcus Allbäck praised the sea of yellow and blue-clad fans in the stadium and said he was stunned at the explosive reaction to the goal.

“It was a totally amazing goal. It must be record odds against that likelihood. When I saw it go in and then the whole stadium exploded in cheers, well, I can’t find the words to describe it,” Allbäck told TV4.

“All the Swedes were screaming like mad,” Ljungberg concurred.