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.”