Euro 2008 qualifier: Sweden defeat sorry Spain
AFP · 7 Oct 2006, 23:38
Published: 07 Oct 2006 23:38 GMT+02:00
Goals from Johan Elmander and Marcus Allbäck handed the hosts their third win in as many games, following earlier wins against Latvia and Liechtenstein, and left them top of group F.
It also amply hit back at critics who said that a string of injuries, no-shows and disputes between players and coach Lars Lagerbäck would spell disaster on the field.
Spain however will be going back to the drawing board, their latest setback coming hot on the heels of their shock 3-2 defeat to Northern Ireland last month.
Aragones will be under pressure, but admitted that any decision concerning his future is not in his hands.
"My future doesn't depend on me, it's up to the federation - and perhaps one or two journalists," said the Spaniard.
Aragones, who tried but failed to quit his coaching job after Spain were eliminated at the last 16 stage of the World Cup, left Raul out - a first in ten years for the respected Real Madrid striker.
In retrospect Aragones might be rueing that decision after the normally in-form strike partnership of David Villa and Fernando Torres, both of whom scored against the northern Irish, failed to inspire on the night.
Elmander fired Sweden into an early lead after being picked out by Allbäck, sending the ball past Iker Casillas from the edge of the area.
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos almost levelled but pulled his effort wide, before Casillas saved well from Niclas Alexandersson.
Elmander was unlucky not to double the home side's advantage just before the half-hour when his drive from distance came back off the crossbar.
Sweden's Egyptian-born stand-in keeper Rami Shaaban was not given a great deal to do until the 38th minute when he saved an attempt from Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg limped off early in the second half and was replaced by Christian Wilhelmsson as neither team managed to take hold of the match.
Allbäck threatened just before the hour mark but his effort drifted wide.
Spain, looking more and more desperate, saw Luis García blasted over from 20 metres and his effort was followed by those of Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol, whose goalbound header was turned away.
Sweden then guaranteed all three points when Wilhelmsson found Allbäck and the 33-year-old beat Casillas from inside the area with eight minutes remaining.
Sweden will look for more of the same against Iceland on Wednesday while Spain will not play again until Denmark visit in March.