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WORLDCUP

Lagerbäck: we were too passive

Sweden were left regretting a slow start and an early red card as their World Cup hopes were dashed 2-0 by Germany in a last 16 round match in Munich on Saturday.

Two goals inside 12 minutes from striker Lukas Podolski had Sweden with their backs to the wall and it became almost mission impossible when defender Teddy Lucic was sent off 10 minutes from half-time for holding back Miroslav Klose.

“It’s difficult to say what happened in the first 12 minutes,” said coach Lars Lagerbäck.

“We were too passive and the goals were also a combination of bad luck and good finishing. After that I don’t know if the referee was under pressure. Perhaps Lucic deserved to be sent off but I have seen worse things. It was bad luck for us.”

“To beat Germany with 11 men is difficult, with 10 it is even more so,” he continued.

Despite the odds being stacked against them, Sweden did have a chance to get back into the game when they were awarded a penalty shortly after the restart.

But after Lagerbäck had oddly made a substitution as Henrik Larsson waited to take the kick, the normally reliable former Celtic star ballooned his shot over the bar and into the crowd effectively burying Swedish comeback hopes.

Lagerbäck said that the decision to make the substitution had been taken before the penalty had been awarded and he had decided to stick by it.

“I had some words with Henrik. I do not know if the substitution had an effect on him. I hope it didn’t,” he said.

But ultimately, the Swedes found playing against an increasingly confident German side in front of a packed 66,000 crowd proved to be too high a mountain to climb.

“We then lost the match in the first 20 minutes,” said Gothenburg midfielder Niclas Alexandersson.

“Playing against Germany in a World Cup on their home turf was always going to anything but easy.”

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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