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Sports digest: Johansson ends 10-year win drought

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06:45 CEST+02:00
Sports digest is The Local's weekly look at what's making the news in Swedish sport.

Golf

Sweden's Per-Ulrik Johansson won the two-million-dollar EPGA Russian Open event at the Le Meridien Country Club in Moscow on Sunday with a solid five under par fourth round performance.

"I feel great," said Johansson after his win. "I haven't won in ten years, since 1997. I have played some good golf since then but I haven't played this well so I am very, very pleased."

"It is tough when you haven't won for that long but the most important thing is that you still have to play when you get into a position."

"I focused on every shot and the only time my mind wandered away a little bit was in the middle of the round and I was thinking about speeches and stuff but I kicked myself and said, no, no, think only about the present and it really worked."

The 40-year-old Swede produced five birdies to card a total of 265 result (23 under par) six shots clear of the second-placed Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, 33, who shot three-under-par on Sunday for a total of 271.

Football

Eriksson prepared to face Thaksin time at City

From the moment he arrived at Manchester City last month, Sven-Göran Eriksson has carefully steered clear of making predictions on how his new side will perform next season.

And for good reason.

There is a good deal of optimism sweeping around Eastlands and the Swede knows he must limit the growing expectations among the blue half of Manchester.

Despite major question marks being raised about Thaksin Shinawatra's suitability as an owner, concerns about his human rights record during his time as Prime-minister of Thailand are all external and will be a long way down the list of conversation topics in Manchester's pubs.

Thaksin is realistic.

"I would like to see City in the top six. It will not happen overnight.

"Especially this season, it's a bit too late for us to do much but I think this year will be better than last year.

"Within three seasons you will see a big change at City."

So far Thaksin has been good to his word on transfer funds, making plenty of cash available for a raft of new signings as Eriksson begins re-building what had become a stale and sub-standard squad under Stuart Pearce.

Eriksson has not held back, with 8.8 million pounds going on Reggina forward Roland Bianchi and another 4.7 million pounds on Atletico Madrid winger Martin Petrov and Brazilian Geovanni and Swiss youngster Gelson Fernandes.

The speed and efficiency of Eriksson's business is already making him look like a much better appointment than former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri, who was initially Thaksin's first choice for the job before choosing Juventus.

The 59-year-old is unlikely to have another job in football after this one and, regardless of his public defiance, will be keen to rebuild his reputation, which suffered a hammering during his reign as England manager.

What Eriksson's new men all have in common is a lack of Premiership experience which should mean they will take time to settle.

While Eriksson insists he is doing the right thing by bringing down the average age of his first-team, it can also be argued that he is bringing in inexperienced players.

That is not to say his signings are without pedigree.

Bianchi hit 18 goals in Serie A with Reggina last season, a division notorious for tight defences.

The pulling power of the Premiership is without question but, while players have flocked to England from all over the world, Italian success stories - other than the irrepressible Gianfranco Zola - are few and far between, particularly expensive strikers.

Petrov boasts more than 60 international appearances for Bulgaria, Geovanni once cost Barcelona 11 million pounds and Eriksson has described Fernandes as the best player in Switzerland.

There will be plenty more to follow before the end of August but this transitional season will not be judged solely on City's final position.

In these upbeat times, it is easy to forget how low City sunk last season.

They may have finished 14th but managed just 10 goals in their 19 home league matches and ended four points above the drop zone.

Eriksson currently finds himself in a similar position to Martin O'Neill at Aston Villa a year ago and he will be afforded plenty of patience.

Although Villa had a good start to last season only to tail off badly, O'Neill's first campaign in charge is viewed as a success and Eriksson's debut in the Premiership is likely to follow a similar pattern.

Fans will be satisfied if shoots of recovery are regularly evident and the Swede's ability to charm the press pack will also buy him plenty of time as would a favourable result against United in City's third league match of the season.

The fact that it took so much of the summer for Thaksin and Eriksson to arrive will not be forgotten and City can not fail to give their fans more joy at home than they had last season.

Expect a top-half finish and a new feel-good factor at Eastlands as a sound basis for a challenge for Europe in Eriksson's second season.

AFP/Graham Chase

***

Halmstad took over from Elfsborg at the top of Allsvenskan on Sunday after a 1-1 draw away to Trelleborg.

A glance at the table shows that there is much still to play for in these season's title race with just three points separating the top four teams:

Allsvenskan: Table and results.

Swimming

Sweden's Stefan Nystrand struck an early Olympics blow on Sunday when he clocked the second fastest time in the history of the 100m freestyle.

Nystrand won the event at the Paris Open in 47.91sec, only the second time the mythic 48-second barrier had been smashed.

"It's like a Christmas present. I didn't think of swimming so quickly," said the 25-year-old Swede.

"To go under 48 seconds is a dream come true. After the world championships in Melbourne I increased my body-building work but not so much that it detracted from my style of swimming.

"I also worked on my starts and the second 50m."

Nystrand, the European championship silver medallist and bronze medallist over 50m at the world championships, just missed out on the world record held by Dutchman Pieter Van Den Hoogenband who clocked the best time of 47.84sec in 2000.

Swedish compatriot Therese Alshammar also starred at the Paris meet winning the 50m freestyle in 24.23sec, just outside the world record of 24.13 held by Inge De Bruijn of the Netherlands.

AFP/TT/The Local

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