Swedes defeat Finland in World Cup warm up

Swedes defeat Finland in World Cup warm up
The Swedish men's football team received a confidence boosting 1-0 win over Finland in Stockholm on Wednesday ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Hungary on September 5th.

Bolton forward Johan Elmander was brought in to replace the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic and broke a long goal drought to score the only goal of the game.

“This has given us important self-confidence before the Hungary match,” Elmander said after the game, adding that only time will tell if he had done enough to force his way into the team alongside the Barcelona star.

With Helsingborg veteran Henrik Larsson also injured, Elmander was joined up front by Marcus Berg, who had been one of the stars of this summer’s U21 Euro 2009.

Berg struggled to impose himself on a predominantly defensive game but managed to display his potential on a couple of occasions in the second half.

But it was the burly Bolton forward who finished off an opening created by former Southampton stalwart Anders Svensson and put the Swedes ahead just before the break in front of a meagre 15,212 crowd on a rainy night at Råsunda Stadium.

The absence of Ibrahimovic was cited as a factor affecting the paltry public interest and right back Mikael Nilsson went as far as to question the purpose of a friendly international at this stage of the season.

Sweden’s perilous fourth position in a qualifying group headed by neighbours Denmark and containing the much-favoured Portugal leaves no doubt that nothing less than three points is required in Budapest in September.

The blue and yellows’ World Cup cause received a welcome helping hand from Scandinavian brethren Norway last night however.

Norway’s 4-0 defeat of Scotland means that if Sweden take maximum points from the remaining matches a play-off place will be secured.

“Great! Now we have our destiny in our own hands,” Sweden and Lyon midfielder Kim Källström said to the assembled media after the news filtered through from Oslo.

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