An easy three points on paper against the group’s whipping boys quickly turned into a battle of attrition as the well-organised hosts frustrated their more auspicious but temporarily uninspired visitors.
But just as Sweden’s world cup dream was beginning to evaporate, up popped a Maltese defender to inadvertently knock a cutback from Marcus Berg into his own net.
The mood of the jubilant travelling fans was further buoyed by results from elsewhere. Sweden’s second win in four days meant they jumped into the second place play-off spot as Hungary fell to Portugal and first-placed Denmark could only manage a point away to Albania.
Though a night to forget in footballing terms, the win leaves Sweden’s destiny in their own hands with just two games left to play. Lars Lagerbäck’s side can secure at least a play-off spot if they win away to Denmark and home to Albania in a crucial four-day period in mid-October.